#World News

One woman’s battle to push Africa’s space race

By Marco Oriunto

Cameroonian scientist Marie Makuate has been at the forefront of using information harvested by satellites to help save the lives of people on Earth in emergencies, but she argues the expense of the data should spur more African countries to launch their own space hardware.

In the hours after the deadly earthquake struck central Morocco last September, the 32-year-old’s phone started buzzing.

She was thousands of kilometres from the zone of destruction, but her skills analysing satellite images were vital.

“I woke up hearing message notifications of my colleagues telling me that there had been a disaster in Morocco,” Ms Makuate tells the BBC from her base in the Cameroonian capital, Yaoundé.

As a geospatial expert for the NGO Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team, she creates maps to help emergency services navigate an unpredictable territory so that people in need can be reached quickly.

It is a job that Ms Makuate says gives her purpose and motivation.

“I was shocked to hear about the [Morocco] disaster, but then I thought that if I mapped as much infrastructure as possible, it would help other people save lives.”

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