It’s “All Systems GO!” for the winners of the fourth edition of the DStv Eutelsat Star Awards to be announced at the awards ceremony in Lusaka, Zambia on February 10. This unique pan-African schools competition has attracted over 3000 entries from 19 countries across the continent and has invigorated a passion for science amongst the younger generation. The top entries from each country will be judged by a distinguished jury that will select a winner and a runner-up for each category.
For the 2014 edition, MultiChoice and Eutelsat have once again enlisted European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut Paolo Nespoli to lead the continental awards judging which will take place in Livingstone, Zambia on February 9. Nespoli, an aerospace engineer from Italy, is an astronaut of the European Space Agency, and flew in space twice: with NASA on the Space Shuttle Discovery in 2007 in a 15-day mission to build the International Space Station, and again in 2010-2011 when, after a launch with the Russian vehicle Soyuz, he spent five and a half months in space carrying out a variety of scientific, technological and educational activities.
With astronaut Paolo Nespoli there will be a panel of distinguished industry and education experts from across Africa, including: Dr. Jacob O Ashong, Director (also Higher Education Consultant) at the Ghana Science Project and Planetarium; Christine Mugimba, Head of Spectrum Management at the Uganda Communications Commission; Professor Steve Simukanga, Vice Chancellor of the University of Zambia as well as a representative from MultiChoice Africa and Eutelsat.
Commenting on his second year of chairing the jury, Paolo Nespoli said: “It was an uplifting experience last year to engage with African students and to discuss their ideas and optimism with the jury members of the DStv Eutelsat Star Awards. I look forward to this year’s event in Zambia and to helping inspire students to dream big and reach for the stars.”
Zambia, the host country, is hoping for a repeat of last year’s awards ceremony in Ghana where Zambian teenager Francine Mazala scooped top honours in the essay category. She has since gone on to visit a rocket launch site in French Guiana as part of her prize. Prior to entering the competition, the 18 year old former Mpelembe Secondary School learner had little knowledge of satellite technology but was encouraged by the fact that her school produced a country winner in the 2012 competition. This, coupled with her passion to enter led her to do a lot of research on satellite technology to increase her chances of capturing the jury’s attention.