Over the last years, Africa’s interest in space has been growing fast, offering opportunities for existing and new players from within and outside the continent. Rwanda was no exception. Only two years ago, the government approved a law establishing the Rwanda Space Agency (RSA), at a time when the world was grappling with the Covid-19 pandemic. Although still at the developing stage, the agency dominated political and business conversations on multilateral space cooperation in Africa and beyond. This, in essence, RSA argues, sets the tone and the urgency for kick-starting advanced operations of the agency in 2023. In December, the government signed a key global space deal-Artemis Accords- commonly described as a directive on guiding the next space exploration. Signatories of the agreement share a vision for principles to create a safe and transparent environment which facilitates exploration, science and commercial activities for all humanity in outer space. This brings the total number of signatories to 23, with Rwanda and Nigeria as the only African countries. For Joseph Abakunda, Chief Strategy Officer at RSA, the development is another milestone to further play a “custodian” role of national spatial data and imagery. “RSA was established about two years ago, and it was in the middle of a pandemic, I think that speaks to the value that the country thinks space can add to the already existing goals,” he said. “Last year we actually developed a national geospatial data portal where every single geospatial data set within the government of Rwanda is under one house.” Rwanda’s space ambitions, Abakunda highlights, go hand in hand with national development. For instance, he said, in 2021, Rwanda experienced a volcanic eruption, leading to “chaos” especially in the eastern part of DR Congo. “But with metrics we could actually tell where the earthquake is coming from, and details such as what was happening underneath the ground. And these are insights that actually help policy makers but that also saves money and of course lives.” According to Risk Atlas for Rwanda, a combined assault by disasters could cost the country a loss of $132m. From a space exploration angle, for instance the recently signed Artemis accords, Abakunda says that there is enormous value for developing countries like Rwanda. “We actually see value, whereas we might be seeing some countries go back to the moon, there are also norms that are being developed.” “So it's not just space technology we are talking about, we are also talking about space policy, and I believe Rwanda is worth being among.” Reacting on whether it could be a “lofty” space ambition, Abakunda believes that the vice is “Very subjective.” “This is not a lofty space ambition, lofty is very subjective. We have been at the forefront of testing new technology. This is not the first and this is not the last. It is important to define what Africa’s role in space is in general.” The role, he said, is not just regarding humans back to the moon, arguing that while the latter might not be the immediate focus, “there are several applications that are needed.’ Experts say that space-based technology is becoming an increasingly powerful tool for addressing global challenges such as agricultural productivity and climate change. Rwanda is now working with industry partners from the US such as E-space, GlobalStar, and ATLAS space operations. Already E-space has opened an office in Kigali, with a plan to offer satellite-based internet-of-things technology in the country. The country also hosts a GlobalStar satellite ground station and the ATLAS antenna has also laid out plans to contribute to lunar mission control. The global space economy represents more than $300bn per year, and could double within a decade, according to a report from the European Space Agency high-level advisory group on accelerating the use of space in Europe, published in October. However, African countries account for the lowest portion of the muscle, despite the commercial explosion touching on all sectors from launchers to applications and from exploration to the LEO economy. Joining the Global Satellite Operators Association Early this year, Rwanda officially joined the Global Satellite Operators Association (GSOA), an agreement that would, among others, further promote space-based services as an essential tool for expanding connectivity in Rwanda and the African continent. The agreement, officials said at the time, would touch key areas such as supporting the deployment of satellite communications services in Rwanda and preserving access to satellite spectrum. Other areas are; preserving access to orbital slots reserved for developing countries, cooperating with African space agencies, and promoting satellite communications services in Rwanda and across Africa.