The International University of East Africa (IUEA), in its quest to continue to advance the frontiers of knowledge for Uganda and the region, is planning to build Uganda’s first educational satellite called IUEA Uganda Satellite One (IUEA UGA-SAT 1).  The university has applied to Uganda Communication Commission (UCC) for permission to build the satellite. If granted, IUEA will be the first university in Uganda, and one in a handful of countries on the continent that will launch an educational satellite. The satellite project is in line with Uganda’s history of providing academic excellence and with the use of technology to advance national economic development. It is also in conformity to IUEA’s vision and mission of being the technological university of choice in Africa and of providing an education that includes practical experience and skills. The satellite project will involve the combined scientific, engineering and useful ability of IUEA’s faculty of science, faculty of engineering, the department of environmental science and IUEA’s soon to be the operational department of agriculture. Modern-day education and the Fourth Industrial Revolution mentality mandates an inter-disciplinary approach to problem-solving, and this is precisely what IUEA’s satellite programme demonstrates.

of The IUEA Uganda Satellite One (IUEA UGA-Sat1) Mission Statement:

Uganda is blessed with a vast amount of arable land. However, the country cannot realize the full potential that could accrue from this extensive resource because of low-tech techniques and crop failure. The reasons for crop failure range from “climate change, incurable crop diseases, a fast-growing population, land fragmentation, and depleted soils, among others.  Due to the onset of climate change, some parts of the country experience abnormally long droughts resulting in disastrous crop failure and death of farmed animals”1 while other parts experience flooding and ruined crops. To address the situation, IUEA plans to design and build a Cube Satellite that will address the climate change and incurable crop diseases aspects of the problem by analyzing and forecasting weather patterns for Uganda’s agricultural sector.

IUEA UGA-Sat1’s primary mission, therefore, is to provide the meteorological and climate change data needed to support farmers and mitigate the disastrous effects of climate change in Uganda. IUEA UGA-Sat1 will be specifically designed to provide agricultural data and analyses using machine learning techniques. The IUEA UGA-Sat1 data will be analyzed and distributed to a diverse user community — farmers, scholars and policymakers.

The International University of East Africa (IUEA) is known as the technological university of choice in Africa. The university is known for many innovations in the field of science and technology and its engineering, science, business and law programmes are current and Fourth Industrial Revolution era relevant. This year, IUEA was selected by the Ministry of Science and Technology as one of the universities in Uganda to teach space science (see attached NewVision article dated July 24, 2019, titled “Universities to start teaching space science”). Currently, the university is one of only a handful of universities on the continent that teaches satellite communication courses. In keeping with demands of the time for technology, with requirements of industry for qualified technologists, with the aspirations of the country for building local human capital in technology and with the mission of the university to provide an education that includes practical experience and skills, IUEA seeks to embark on building the first Uganda Satellite named IUEA Uganda Satellite One (IUEA UGA-Sat1). The ability to develop and operate educational satellites will be an essential academic and technological milestone for Uganda.

As a first step to building a satellite, IUEA has sent a request to the UCC for permission to build and operate the IUEA UGA-SAT 1 educational satellite. UCC’s approval is necessary to operate legally in Uganda and to be registered internationally. If the request is granted, IUEA’s team. Composed of its staff and students from the faculties of science and technology, engineering (satellite communication, engineering) and from the department of environmental science and agriculture will start to develop IUEA UGA-SAT 1.

Beneficiaries of IUEA UGA-Sat1 include Ugandan education, farmers, scholars, agriculturalists, environmental scientists and policymakers. Weather-driven data, collected and beamed down by the satellite, will be shared with the beneficiaries mentioned above and with any government agency that is interested in the data.

Nationally, IUEA UGA-Sat1 will boost Uganda’s technical capacity and provide it with the local technical know-how it needs to increase agricultural output. IUEA’s unique technical contribution to agricultural advancement in Uganda will be a technological eco-system that combines terrestrial systems (planter robot, farm rover, climate-soil activated irrigation system) and space-based technology (IUEA UGA-Sat1). This combination is at once, innovative, unrivalled and needs support. Should it succeed, Uganda will be the only country to have such an advanced terrestrial and space-based agricultural smart system developed by a university.

Should we succeed, this technology will not only boost agricultural income for Ugandan farmers, but it will also be a significant intellectual property technological revenue earner for Uganda.


Dr. Emeka Akaezuwa Ph.D

Vice Chancellor, International University of East Africa

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