Ethiopia just opened its first optical observatory. Named after the Entoto mountain it is sitting on, the observatory is located at about 3200 meters above sea level and very close to the capital Addis Ababa. This facility will operate two identical 1m telescopes that will have various state-of-the-art astronomical instruments (imaging as well as spectroscopic). According to Dr Solomon Belay, director of the observatory, this is an independent research institute, owned by 32 public universities plus one private university. It is the first research-level optical observatory in East Africa and aims to become a hub of astronomical research and training in the region.
Dr Solomon Belay also mentioned that Entoto Observatory is also doing site-testing projects in the highlands of northern part of Ethiopia (close to Lalibela) to put bigger-size telescopes.
Ethiopia, being one of the continent’s fastest growing economies, has been investing a lot in science and education and this ambitious space program is part of the many big investments the government and the private sector are undertaking to promote science and technology in the country. This project will certainly be of great advantage not only for Ethiopia but also for the entire East African region in terms of training students as well as in the effort to create scientifically literate citizens.