Successful launch of the first-ever Pan-African telecommunications satellite RASCOM-QAF1

No Comments » January 2nd, 2008 posted by // Categories: ICT Industry Development Project



Successful launch of the first-ever Pan-African telecommunications satellite

Sunday 30 December 2007

Abidjan: (SUNA)
On Friday evening, December 21, 2007 at about 21H51 GMT, Arianespace successfully boosted the first ever Pan African communications satellite-RASCOM-QAF1. Built by Thales Alenia Space under a turnkey contract from Rascom-QAF, the Rascom-AQF1 satellite has a design life of 15 years. It will provide telecommunications services especially to rural areas in Africa as will as inter-urban and international phone links, direct TV broadcast and Internet services. It will also provide Band Lease services.


Based on a Spacebus 4000B3 platform, this powerful spacecraft carries 21 ku-band transponders and eight C-band transponders. The satellite is positioned at 2.85 degrees East. The Director General of Arianespace after the successful launch of the satellite said, “we are particularly very proud of launching the first Pan-African Satellite, Rascom QAF1 which the operator, Rascom-QAF will use to offer a broad array of dedicated communications services to all of Africa, on behalf of the inter-governmental organization RASCOM which groups 45 African countries and one Non-Signatory Shareholder. By this successful launch, Arianespace has established a long-standing relationship of mutual confidence with this mission’s customers”. RASCOM is very pleased to mention that all African financial institutions which have participated in financing the RASCOM project were represented at the launch event to see the launch of the first ever Pan-African satellite system including the Libyan African Investment Portfolio, (LAIP), the African Development Bank (ADB) the Bank of West African Development (BOAD) and the Bank of Central African Development (BDEAC). RASCOM has been greatly honoured by their presence at the launch by an Ariane 5 launcher from Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana.


Expressing his deep feelings of joy immediately after the launch event, Dr. Jones A. Killimbe, Director General/CEO of RASCOM said “this is an African dream come true which has been made possible through being able to believe in ourselves that together we can always make it” RASCOM, is an intergovernmental commercial satellite organization and the expression of the strong willingness of the African Governments and telecommunication operators to pool their efforts with a view to providing he African continent with telecommunications infrastructure based on satellite communications technology which is not only leading to a global response for all telecommunications requirements identified in Africa, but more specifically it is going to provide telecommunications services at very low cost, thus making universal service a reality in Africa. RASCOM has a membership of 45 African countries as of now and one Non-Signatory Shareholder and other remaining African countries shall join soon. To achieve its mission, RASCOM has established strategic partnership in Rascom Star-QAF its commercial operating Company, which has under an Execution Agreement, the responsibility to implement the RASCOM telecommunications satellite system dedicated to the African continent which has been launched on 21 December 2007.


Africa’s poor to benefit from new satellite


By Samuel Otieno and Maseme Machuka


A dream to have digital rural villages in Kenya is making strides into reality with the

first pan-African telecommunications satellite system launch into orbit next week.


The satellite system, Regional African Satellite Communication Organisation (Rascom),

designed by a Kenyan engineer, Mr James Rege, will be launched on December 28.


Once it is operationalised, the satellite is expected cut down communication cost and make it possible for the continent’s poor to have access to affordable communication products.


The operator, Rascom, expect the system to provide a range of value-added services to all countries of Africa.

The services would, among others, include provision of telecommunications services in rural areas on a large scale at low costs by using appropriate technology.


It would also enable the development of inter-urban links within the interior of each of the African countries.

The system is also expected to provide direct links between all the African countries without exception.

This, the operator says, would save several of millions of dollars paid out annually to operators outside the continent as transit charges for intra-African traffic.

Great achievement

Initially, most countries in Africa had no satellite system forcing them to rely heavily on world satellites such as Intel Sat, Arab Sat, Asia Sat, and so on.

Kenya as a member country that contributed to the development of Rascom 1, has paid $2million for membership.

Once it is launched, the satellite will provide the communication footprint in Africa, broadband for rural areas to assist in the schools’ Internet connectivity at a cheaper rate.

The system will also facilitate television broadcasting, Internet and other value-added services.

Local television broadcast stations will benefit from the satellite since they will be able to use Rascom satellite to put up a signal, that can be seen anywhere in Africa.

Rascom has identified its customers Telecommunication firms, Internet Service Providers, TV Broadcasters and any data content Providers.

“It will be a lot cheaper than the system they are using now. KTN can use because the footprint covers the entire landmass of Africa,” says Rege.

“What they need to do is to go anywhere and put antennae receivers then they will be able to receive the signal and broadcast it locally at a cheap rate”.

People around Africa who have laptops and satellite dishes can also access bandwidth as well as distribute it around.

“They can access broadband and access movies on their mobile phones, access Internet at higher speed,” he says.

Experts put the cost that will be saved after the satellite system will be launched at 20 percent down from the current rates they are currently experiencing.

The journey to the Rascom 1 satellite began in 1994 when a Kenyan ICT wizard, Rege, partnered with Dr Adaja Gundo to spearhead the first African Satellite.

The aim of the satellite was to provide a footprint, which will cover the entire landmass of the African continent from Tunisia to Cape Town, from Cape verd to Mauritius.

Rege was the first engineer to design the footprints back in 1994 and later left the work after four years to go back to the United States where he was studying.

But today, the satellite system is all finished based on the data Rege left.

“It is going to be the thing that we ever had,” says Rege in an interview with The Standard. He adds: “Most satellite communications, when they are providing footprint in Africa they always look at lucrative countries like South Africa so when they design the satellite, they only put footprints there because there is where they will make money forgetting about other parts of Africa.”

Rascom 1 is going to provide a lot of bandwidth for communication in Africa.

As a result, the cost of Internet will be lowered because entry of Rascom 1 will bring stiff competition in providing the satellite services in Africa.

The existing local satellites system providers will be forced to reduce their cost because there is competition.

“To make it good is the fact that it belongs to us Africans. The benefit of a satellite is the fact that the signal is available everywhere, it is not like point-to-point fibre optics,” says Rege.

Arianespace, the global launch Service & Solutions Company, has confirmed Rascom 1 is one of the two systems to be launched by its Arianespace’s 5 GS mission from Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana this month.

In its Mission Update of December 6, 2007 Rascom 1, named after its operator, Regional African Satellite Communication Organisation (Rascom), is in the process of being connected to the launch vehicle.

“Two satellites have reached new milestones in their pre-flight preparation, with Rascom 1 advancing closer to integration with the launcher at Europe’s Spaceport” says Rege.

Last month, Africa Development Bank (ADB), Group President, Mr Donald Kaberuka, said the continent would have its first satellite by the end of this year.

Kaberuka said the satellite would enable Africans to easily communicate with other people across the globe and within the continent.

The Bank Group and other development partners are funding the satellite project.

Rascom 1 is the first dedicated Pan-African telecommunications satellite and was built by Thales Alenia Space.



2006 – African Infrastructure, Fixed Voice and Data Markets


Africa is the world’s second largest continent after Asia, with a total surface area of 30 million square kilometres. The continent consists of 55 countries and territories housing some 840 million people. The social and economic conditions range from poverty to affluence, South Africa being among the most affluent and handling much of the trade for the whole of the southern region.

Many African governments have realised the importance of telecommunications and the fact that private investment is the way forward. Alternative technologies such as satellite, wireless and cellular are now making the task of connecting Africa far easier than it has been with the traditional cable-based services, and growth rates have been phenomenal.

Despite some remarkable changes across the continent over the past ten years, overall teledensities are still low, with the rollout of fixed lines by incumbent operators barely inching forward in most countries, while the uptake of mobile telephony moves rapidly past it. The same can be said of data communications – wireless data services are becoming operational and will similarly usurp fixed-line infrastructure. These trends threaten to undermine Africa’s Public Telecom Operators (PTOs), especially as they are privatised and their valuation comes under the spotlight. As a result, some have opted for protective strategies. Threatened by the growth of mobile, they have been awarded mobile licences, and with recent growth in the Internet sector, many have established Internet divisions. Regulatory issues, such as interconnection and carrier pre-selection, have also impeded the entrance of fixed-line competitors.

Many countries are undergoing sectoral reform and foreign investment is now being actively encouraged across the continent as privatisation and liberalisation are progressively being introduced. More than one-third of all state telcos have already privatised and several more are set to undergo privatisation in the near future. Some of the biggest markets on the continent, including Nigeria and Kenya, have privatisation of their national telcos on the agenda for 2006.

Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) is finally starting to take off in Africa following steady improvements in Internet bandwidth and the growing number of VoIP service providers entering the market. International IP telephony wholesalers have seen a huge surge in voice traffic to and from Africa in the past five years. Through their interconnection capabilities, they enable African operators to quickly gain access to an international network, new revenue and very competitive outbound rates. Several countries have liberalised VoIP, opening up opportunities for many smaller service providers, including South Africa, Kenya, Egypt and Tanzania, with many others set to follow in their footsteps.

Several large cable and satellite projects, notably WASC/SAT3/SAFE, Comtel and Rascom have been developed with the goal of meeting the rising needs of the African market for international bandwidth and reducing the continent’s dependence on European traffic hubs. New terrestrial links between some African countries are also being built or existing ones modernised.

This annual report offers a wealth of information on the Infrastructure, Fixed Voice and Data markets, covering:

  • Key Statistics
  • Regulatory issues and government policies
  • Deregulation and privatisation
  • National telecom networks
  • International infrastructure
  • VSAT networks
  • Datacomms Infrastructure
  • Leased Lines, ISDN, Frame Relay, ATM, DSL
  • Public and value-added data services
  • Brief overviews on all of the major telecommunications carriers and service providers in 32 african countries


Opt In Image
Send Me Free Email Updates

(enter your email address below)

Leave a Reply


Home | About | Contact | Login