The International Astronomical Union (IAU) and the Ethiopian government signed an addendum to the agreement to host the East African Regional Office of Astronomy for Development (EA-ROAD) in Ethiopia. The agreement makes provisions for the change of the host institution from Addis Ababa University to the Ethiopian Space Science and Technology Institute (ESSTI), which falls under the leadership of the Ethiopian Ministry of Science and Technology. Furthermore, it was agreed that the East African ROAD oversight committee will be chaired by the Ministry of Science and Technology, and will also comprise professionals from the East African astronomy community.
The addendum was signed by Prof. Piero Benvenuti, General Secretary of the IAU; Mr. Kevin Govender, Director of the Office of Astronomy for Development (OAD); and His Excellency Dr.-Ing. Getahun Mekuria, the Ethiopian Minister of Science and Technology. The signing event was attended by coordinators from all nine OAD Regional Offices (ROADs) and Language Centres (LOADs).
The addendum to the agreement was signed after the fourth Middle East and Africa Regional IAU Meeting (MEARIM IV), which took place from 22–25 May 2017 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. One purpose of the meeting was to “provide a forum and network for scientists and students in the region”.
In his address, the Ethiopian Minister of Science and Technology highlighted the many exciting activities going on in Ethiopia in terms of astronomy and space science/technology, and how this change in the structure will strengthen the East African ROAD efforts significantly.
The IAU is the international astronomical organisation that brings together more than 10 000 professional astronomers from almost 100 countries. Its mission is to promote and safeguard the science of astronomy in all its aspects through international cooperation. The IAU also serves as the internationally recognised authority for assigning designations to celestial bodies and the surface features on them. Founded in 1919, the IAU is the world's largest professional body for astronomers.
The IAU established the Office of Astronomy for Development (OAD) in partnership with the South African National Research Foundation (NRF). The OAD was officially opened on 16 April 2011 at the South African Astronomical Observatory (SAAO) in Cape Town, South Africa. It is tasked with the implementation of the IAU Strategic Plan including the establishment of Regional Offices and three astronomy-for-development “Task Forces”. As of 2017 the OAD had administered more than half a million euros in IAU grant funds, which was awarded to 106 projects that reached over 85 countries across the world. Since its establishment the OAD has negotiated the establishment of nine regional offices around the world (based in Armenia, China, Colombia, Ethiopia, Jordan, Nigeria, Portugal, Thailand and Zambia) with two of these offices serving as a joint language centre (Chinese and Arabic), and one serving as a dedicated language centre (Portuguese). In parallel the OAD registered over 600 volunteers and formed nine partnerships with organisations sharing in the OAD vision.
Director, IAU Office of Astronomy for Development (OAD)
Tel: +27 21 460 9350
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Lars Lindberg Christensen
IAU Press Officer
Garching bei München, Germany
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Cell: +49 173 38 72 621