Dr. Benjamin Bonsu on Leading the Satellite Industry in Africa from Japan
The Ashinaga Africa Initiative is a leadership program to empower the next generation of African leaders. Graduates of the program are encouraged to return to their home countries and lead change in their communities.
Some AAI graduates pursue advanced degrees or start their jobs abroad, intending to lay a solid foundation for their careers and gain the necessary skills and expertise. Even while they are not physically on the continent, these young leaders are constantly preoccupied and invested in ways they can contribute to the growth of their countries from afar.
The space journey of Dr. Benjamin Bonsu, a Ghana-born satellite engineer, currently based in Edogawa, Tokyo, and working on nanosatellite development, started during his early university years, with the ambition of building the first Ghanian satellite. “At the time, nobody believed Ghana could build a satellite,” he says. “My professors thought I was crazy.” After graduating in Electrical Engineering, he impressed Japanese experts with his skills and passion. He became the first Ghanian to participate in a satellite development program sponsored by a Japanese university.
After this valuable experience, Dr. Bonsu was also finally able to realize his lifelong dream. As a result of a collaboration between All Nations University, where he co-founded the Space Systems Technology Laboratory, and the Kyushu Institute of Technology, the first Ghanaian satellite, GhanaSat-1, was deployed in 2017 and deorbited in 2019. The news was broadcast on international media and inspired several other African countries to work on space missions.
Dr. Bonsu now dreams of building a small satellite development and testing center in Africa. He also hopes that the development of the space industry in Africa will create more collaborations with Japan.
Students were curious about what kept him going against all odds when working on his projects in Ghana. “Initially, I wanted to prove my professors wrong,” he responded jokingly, “but the more I worked, the more I understood that there was an actual need for satellites in my country. Satellites can be used for many things, from internet access to weather forecasting and even disaster management. This inspired me to work harder. My advice for you is to never lose sight of your dreams; as the journey gets tougher, remember that you are on the right path.” In his parting advice, Dr. Bonsu urged the Graduates and Alumni team to follow their inner compass and consciousness as they work hard for their dreams, adding, ‘’Being passionate about what you do can help you feel more fulfilled and find meaning in your professional responsibilities.’’