Maram Kaïré : the pragmatic dreamer leading Senegal to the stars

Maram Kaïré, Director General of the Senegalese Space Studies Agency, is a man of vision and passion. Through a career marked by a fascination with the stars since childhood, he is now leading Senegal towards uncharted space horizons, determined to make up for decades of delay and propel his country among the space nations.

Maram Kaïré is not a UFO, nor even an alien. Yet, his career and ambitions for Senegal may seem straight out of a science fiction novel. « Maybe just in anticipation, » he says laughing when asked if he considers himself an earthly UFO. From a young age, Kaïré has always had his eyes fixed on the stars. « At the age of 12, I started getting interested in astronomy after the explosion of the Challenger shuttle. This tragic event marked my memory and sparked my passion for space exploration. »

However, Senegal at the time did not offer the resources needed to nurture this passion. « Astronomy was not a science you could learn in our schools or universities. You had to document yourself, learn on your own, and above all, observe. » Without a telescope, Kaïré started building one himself, a project he completed at the age of 14. This first step towards the stars led him to create the Senegalese Astronomy Association in 2006, with the mission of popularizing astronomy and inspiring young Senegalese.

Kaïré’s commitment to astronomy quickly attracted international attention. In 2018, NASA solicited him to coordinate a stellar occultation mission for the New Horizons probe. « We accompanied NASA beyond Pluto to meet an asteroid 6 billion kilometers from Earth. The flyby took place on January 1, 2019, a great success for our team of fifty astronomers and astrophysicists. »

Africa has considered space a luxury, but that is a mistake. Satellite data is essential

Buoyed by these successes, Kaïré discussed with the Senegalese president the need to create a national space agency. Thus, on March 29, 2023, the Senegalese Space Studies Agency (ASES) was born, with Kaïré as its first Director General. « Our mission is to develop national policy and strategy in the space field, coordinate initiatives, build the necessary infrastructure, and facilitate the transfer of skills. »

ASES has ambitious projects. « We are working on our first satellite, finalized with the Montpellier University Space Center, and on a constellation of 5 to 7 satellites that we hope to launch starting in 2028. We also want to create a ‘Senegal Space Valley,’ a city dedicated exclusively to space, inspired by models like Toulouse in France or Florida in the United States. »

For Kaïré, investment in space is crucial for Africa’s development. « The countries advanced in sustainable development goals are those that have invested in space. Africa has considered space a luxury, but that is a mistake. Satellite data is essential for agriculture, health, education, security, and even oil and gas exploitation. For example, through space, we can monitor our borders, improve smart agriculture, and facilitate telemedicine in remote areas. »

Kaïré firmly believes that Africa must catch up in space to avoid being left behind. « With the advent of New Space, space is within the reach of African states. Today, a satellite can be developed with only 1 million dollars, making this technology accessible to universities, startups, and young innovators. »

In addition to its national projects, ASES seeks to collaborate with other African agencies. « We are working with Kenya, Rwanda, Tunisia, and other countries to share our experiences and move forward together. The creation of the African Space Agency will also play a crucial role in coordinating efforts across the continent. »

We want the young generations not only to dream of the stars but also to envision careers in space


Kaïré, named Commander of the National Order of the Lion of Senegal and with an asteroid (35462 Maramkaire) named after him, embodies the vision of a bold and ambitious Senegal. « We want the young generations not only to dream of the stars but also to envision careers in space. Space must become a lever for growth and development for our country. We have 50 years to catch up, but with determination and anticipation, we can achieve it. »

Maram Kaïré is a pragmatic dreamer, a man whose dreams reach the stars while his feet remain firmly planted on Earth. His leadership at the helm of ASES promises a bright future for Senegal and Africa.

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