SumbandilaSat enhances South Africa's tech status

South Africa this week underlined its superior technology status in Africa with the launch of its second satellite in a decade.

After a false start on Tuesday due to technical hitches, the Sumbandila Satellite finally lifted off into Earth's orbit on Thursday evening. The satellite was launched by a Russian Soyuz rocket taking off from Baikonur, Kazakhstan.

"We look forward to implementing our space strategy so that we can join other nations in exploring the myriad possibilities presented by scientific and technological research," said Naledi Pandor, South Africa's minister in charge of science and technology, who attended the launch.

Sumbandila, which means "lead the way" in the Venda language, is South Africa's second satellite to blast off into space after Sunsat, in 1999.

The two satellites will add to the capacity provided by cable systems including EASSY, which is set to go live in June next year. The extra capacity will give South Africa a competitive edge in the continent's telecommunications industry.

"The launch reinforces South Africa's role in national, regional and international space initiatives. This launch is a milestone in our efforts to develop and enhance space science and technology in our country," said Phil Mjwara, director general of the department of science and technology.