The Technical University of Kenya (TUK) has developed a space project to monitor boats and other water vessels on Lake Victoria. A team from the Nairobi-based institution came up with the nanosatellite dubbed “TUKSat-1”. It will track boats in the lake and provide information to necessary authorities on overfishing and illegal fishing. TUKSat-1 will also automatically relay information on organised crime in the lake to authorities.
This invention comes when several cases of insecurity have been reported in the lake. Furthermore, monitoring the lake has been a challenge for decades. TUK now joins other universities that have shown great interest in space innovation. These universities include the University of Nairobi, Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology, Kenyatta University, and Moi University. The innovation will consequently improve the emergency response rate for vessels in distress in the lake.
Colonel Hillary Kipkosgey, acting Director-General of Kenya Space Agency (KSA), challenged universities to tap into opportunities in space systems. “Kenya is keen to develop its space system engineering capability. The pathway begins with the development of nanosatellites and microsatellites. That is why KSA values the work done by the talented and smart young men and women,” he said.
Prof Paul Baki, the project’s principal investigator, decried low funding for such projects but asked for more collaboration among institutions. “Going forward, it might be important to engage institutions that will provide their budget, and I want to believe that you should not limit yourselves to capitation that you get from the government. You might want to partner with the National Research Fund, which has the money for infrastructure development,” he said.
He said that locals making nanosatellites using local research infrastructure showed the ability to produce nanosatellites in the country commercially.