Institute of Geophysics, Space Science and Astronomy (IGSSA)


In 1957 at the convention on the International Geophysical Year (IGY) in Rome, a statement was issued by the scientific community to establish in Addis Ababa (Ethiopia), a geomagnetic observatory which is uniquely located beneath the earth’s ionospheric equatorial electro-jet.  Therefore, in order to carry out research on the equatorial electro-jet, the then authorities of the University College of Addis Ababa (UCAA) had received a request which they accepted promptly. Thus the Addis Ababa Geophysical Observatory was established in 1957 as Ethiopia’s contribution to the international scientific endeavors. It was hosted by the Science Faculty where it is located currently. The observatory formally started its scientific operations in 1958.

Although it was not included in the recommendation at IGY convention, considering Addis Ababa’s location, which is on the rim of the Ethiopian Rift Valley that constitutes the East African Rift System, and where crustal faulting /deformations, earthquakes and volcanism are considered potential hazards, research programs in seismology were commenced in February 1959 by the initiative of the observatory.

In 2005, the Geophysical Observatory celebrated its 50th anniversary and a statute that transformed the observatory into an Institute of Geophysics, Space Science and Astronomy (IGSSA) was approved by the University’s senate. The institute aspires to become a center of excellence in areas of geophysics, space science and astronomy. Currently, IGSSA is a national seismological, geomagnetic and geodetic observatory and its primary duties are conducting permanent monitoring of the earth systems. IGSSA lies at the forefront of African scientists, particularly Eastern Africa, in geo-scientific endeavors and is capable of attracting earth scientists from all over the world.

Parallel to its routine monitoring and specific research activities, IGSSA has been involved in consultancy services to various governmental and nongovernmental organizations in the areas of its expertise, thereby promoting the development endeavors in the country. Although it is a non-teaching institute, it also delivers selected graduate courses at related degree-offering departments of the University.

At present, IGSSA has five research units and two centers, which provide common services to all units (see the organizational structure below).

As part of the transformation plan, IGSSA is in the process of diversifying and strengthening its human resource capacity and equipment infrastructure, including scientific instruments and office building facilities.