Egypt has achieved a significant milestone in its space program, becoming the first African country with the capability to assemble, integrate, and test (AIT) satellites. This accomplishment follows the delivery of two prototype satellites for the MisrSat II satellite project, funded by China. The tests conducted on these satellite models inaugurated the largest satellite assembly, integration, and test center in Africa and West Asia, built through a grant from Beijing.
The establishment of this center not only localizes the satellite industry in Egypt but also positions the country as a leader in technology transfer to Africa. The MisrSat II satellite flight model is scheduled for delivery at a later date. This achievement has been hailed as a significant development in the space cooperation between China and Egypt, further promoting the growth of space technology in Africa.
The MisrSat II satellite, with a high-resolution capability of up to 2 meters, will play a crucial role in supporting Egypt Vision 2030 for sustainable development. It will contribute to various applications such as accurately identifying crop types, exploring mineral resources, facilitating urban planning, and monitoring coastal transformations based on atmospheric and soil conditions. Additionally, the Egyptian Space Agency has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Chinese Land Satellite Remote Sensing Application Center (LASAC) for remote sensing data.
China’s involvement in Egypt’s space program is part of its broader Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and signifies the strengthening partnership between the two countries. China has been investing in the construction of new launch sites and expanding its satellite industry. With over 700 functioning satellites in orbit, China has established itself as a major player in space activities. Egypt, as a key collaborator in the BRI, has attracted substantial Chinese investments in various sectors.
The collaboration between China and Egypt extends beyond the space sector. China has become one of Egypt’s largest partners, with a comprehensive partnership and a cooperation portfolio of around $1.7 billion. This funding supports various development sectors in Egypt, including electricity, healthcare, education, vocational training, and more.
Furthermore, Egypt’s increasing dependence on China for its digital infrastructure could lead to the incorporation of Chinese satellite internet into its networks. This is because Egypt’s digital infrastructure already relies on Chinese assets such as submarine cables, fiber optic lines, 5G networks, and satellite ground stations. China’s economic influence provides it with the power to discourage the adoption of US services in these countries.
As countries around the world race to develop their own constellations and satellite-broadband networks, China is reportedly planning to develop a vast satellite network in near-Earth orbit to provide global internet services. This project, known as “Guo Wang,” aims to compete against Elon Musk’s Starlink.
Overall, Egypt’s achievement in satellite assembly and testing capabilities, coupled with its collaboration with China, demonstrates the country’s commitment to advancing its space program and enhancing its technological capabilities.