Leaders of Space Agencies in Africa: Morocco

Dr Driss El-Hadani. Image Credit: IAF

Morocco’s space institution, Centre Royal de Télédétection Spatiale (CRTS) was created by decree in December 1989 and has been mandated to promote the exploitation and development of remote sensing applications in Morocco. CRTS coordinates and carries out the national program in remote sensing in collaboration with government departments, private operators and Moroccan universities. The centre’s latest satellite, MOHAMMED VI-B was launched in 2018. The centre is under the leadership of Dr Driss El Hadani.

Driss El Hadani has an expansive educational background spanning business administration, water resources engineering, remote sensing and legal studies. He has attended institutions like Université Mohammed V, Université Pierre et Marie Curie (Paris VI), Ecole Mohammadia des Ingénieurs, Institut Supérieur du Commerce, de l’Adminstartion des Entreprises and Ecole Mohammadia des Ingénieurs

The multi-disciplinarian also contributes to academic discourses in Space, having published works like ‘Developing a Remotely Sensed Drought Monitoring Indicator for Morocco’, and strategy document like ‘Earth Observation for National Development Strategies

As a professional, he has over 30 years of progressive experience in space technology applications and sustainable environments, including extensive experience in project management and financial administration. During his time as the Director-General of CRTS, he has transitioned the centre from a small unit to an operational and leading institution in Africa & Middle East regions. In his capacity as Director-General, he has implemented the Moroccan Space Data Infrastructure that provides spatial information to all national users (Public and Private sectors) and boosted National Space Applications Market by developing a wide range of applications and services in agriculture, urban planning, environment, natural resources, security and risk management. 

His experiences also include him developing strong international cooperation relationships with the major players in the space field, such as NASA, ESA, CNES, ISRO. He is committed to knowledge sharing and development of skilled technicians. He has directly set up capacity building programs that benefited more than 3000 executives in Morocco and across the African continent. He has been serving as the Director-General of CRTS since May 1998 making him the longest-serving leader of a space institution in Africa.

Outside of CRTS, he has served as a member of the Executive Committee of the Group on Earth Observation (GEO), he is the first Vice-president of the United Nations Committee for the Peaceful uses of Outer Space, and a Vice-president of the International Astronautics Federation (IAF). His expertise has also been tested as the Vice-President of the Eurisy Association, as a member of the UNOOSA Working Group in charge of strategy for the integration of space technique in risk and natural disaster management, and a member of the Scientific Committee of the African Centre for Catastrophic Risks; created in April 2005 by the African Insurance Organization.


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