Through a decree issued on August 19th, 2022, Egypt’s President El-Sisi appointed Prof. Sherif Mohamed Sedky as the new executive head of the Egyptian Space Agency. Professor Sedky will serve in this position for one year and will be of a similar rank to a minister.
In 2019, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi announced the appointment of Dr Mohamed Al-Qousi as the CEO of the Egyptian Space Agency and renewed Dr Al-Qousi’s appointment every year till Prof. Sedky’s appointment. During his time as CEO, Dr Al-Qousi upheld and facilitated the actualisation of the agency’s mandate to create and transfer space technology, develop and localise them, and own self-capabilities to build & launch satellites from Egyptian territory. In addition, he initiated several partnership agreements between Egypt and several countries and institutions and introduced several programs and projects in the agency. Some of them include:
- Egypt’s space city’s construction is progressing rapidly and will be inaugurated in 2022. The city will host the headquarters of the African Space Agency, Egypt’s satellite assembly, integration and testing centre, and many other structures to support space activities in the country.
- Strategic discussions and agreements between Egypt and many other foreign institutions and countries to promote cooperation in space activities, research and exploration for peaceful purposes
- The Egyptian Space Agency and the national space agencies of Kenya and Uganda were selected as the first awardee of the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) ‘s Access to space for all Bartolomeo programme. This programme will enable these countries to fly an imaging system aboard the International Space Station. The payload will monitor climate change and weather conditions to mitigate food insecurity in Africa.
- In 2020, the Egyptian Space Agency also started working on a collaborative human capacity development programme with NASA to build 35 educational cube satellites to train more space scientists in Egypt. These satellites would allow students, specialists, and engineers to learn and perform programming and control the satellites. Independently, the agency planned to establish a cluster of space technology centres across the country in universities.
- Egypt spearheaded a satellite training program in 2021, with representatives from Botswana, Ghana, Kenya, Morocco, Nigeria and Sudan in attendance, to facilitate the launch of a pan-African satellite project named the African Development Satellite Initiative (AfDev-Sat). The initiative aims to cooperate mutually to advocate the level of knowledge and capabilities in the space industry and how African countries may have non-dependency on building their space systems.
About the new director
Prof Sherif Sedky started in academia, having joined Cairo University in 1999 as a teacher before becoming a visiting researcher at the University of California and his subsequent appointment as a teacher at the American University in Cairo in 2002. He became an assistant professor and later a university professor in 2004 and 2008, respectively. Furthermore, he worked as a visiting professor at the Catholic University of Louvain from 2001 to 2008 and at Stafford University from 2009 to 2011.
In 2010, he was appointed Director of the Yousef Jameel Center for Science and Technology, then the Associate Dean for Graduate Studies and Scientific Research Affairs at the American University in Cairo in 2011. He served as the first president of Zewail University of Science and Technology from 2013 to 2015 before he became the academic president of the American University in Cairo. Prof. Sedky returned to Zewail City to become its academic president for the second time in 2017.
Professor Sedky established the Centre for Design and Fabrication of Microelectromechanical Systems at the American University in Cairo in 2003. In 2007, he was awarded the Excellence Award in Research and Creative Works from the American University in Cairo, in addition to the State Encouragement Award in Science and Technology in 2002, which was granted by the Academy of Scientific Research, and the Graduate Studies Award from Cairo University in 1996.
Professor Sedky has obtained nine patents related to providing new techniques for controlling the physical properties of thin films, either by blending different materials or by focusing heat treatment using short laser pulses.
Ayooluwa Adetola is a writer and editor at Space in Africa. She loves to share scientific information using the simplest words possible. When she’s not in front of a screen, she can be found with her nose buried in a book.