The International Astronomical Union (IAU) has signed an agreement with partners in Ethiopia to host an East African regional node of the IAU Office of Astronomy for Development (OAD).
This would be the first regional node established on the African continent and would be driven locally by the Ethiopian Ministry of Science and Technology, the Ethiopian Ministry of Education, the Ethiopian Space Science Society and the Addis Ababa University.
The office forms part of the IAU’s decadal strategic plan, led by the IAU global coordinating office in Cape Town, aimed at realising the global societal benefits of astronomy. To date, regional nodes had been established in China for the East Asia region and in Thailand for the South East Asia region.
“We are excited about this collaboration with our Ethiopian colleagues, not only because of the visionary leadership shown within the country in terms of science and technology but also because of the exemplary projects they have embarked on, such as the Entoto Observatory and Space Science Research Centre. We have worked closely with the region for several years now and this agreement is a significant milestone for the growth and development of astronomy in East Africa,” IAU OAD director Kevin Govender said.
IAU assistant general secretary Piero Benvenuti added that not only was the IAU strongly committed to the science of astronomy, but also to the many educational and developmental benefits that the field brought.
“These benefits can be seen through strong links of astronomy with three key areas of society: technology, science and culture. The IAU strategic plan is a testament to the commitment of the professional astronomical community to education and development,” Benvenuti said, adding that the new regional node would be instrumental in developing professional commitments in the region.
The IAU further stated that the establishment of the East African regional node in Ethiopia had received strong support from the East African Astronomical Society (EAAS), which was made up of representatives from several countries including Burundi, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda.
“The partners of this regional node will establish a steering committee comprising relevant expertise, including representatives from the OAD-IAU, EAAS and other East African countries, in order to lead the activities of the three task forces in the region,” the organisation said.