In South Africa, Sentech, the state-owned signal distributor for the local broadcasting sector, is calling for private partners to fund its US$300 million space communication satellite project that will benefit the whole southern African region.
According to Flenk Mnisi, head of media and broadcast at Sentech, the project would be a partnership between the public and private sectors.
Mnisi told delegates at the Africa Tech Week event that “From an investment perspective, we are looking at a capital investment of US$300 million. This amount will cover the satellite’s lifespan, which is 20 years.”
Mnisi also said, “We propose that we go on a private-public partnership model and invite other players, such as entrepreneurs. The idea is to build a medium-sized high-throughput satellite that will cover the region and be able to provide services.”
Mnisi explained that the satellite would provide “complementary technology – not a one-size-fits-all” solution to South Africa’s output of digital technology infrastructure. “We are trying to bridge the digital gap and ensure that rural areas and other places outside urban centres are not excluded from the digital economy.”
Earlier this year, South Africa concluded the auction of broadband spectrum, the first in 17 years. The additional frequencies are expected to help mobile operators expand capacity and enable the rollout of faster communication technologies, such as 5G.
Mnisi further noted that the development of the satellite would be a “long journey” with local and international regulatory hurdles.
“It is our national satellite programme, but we call it the Pan-African satellite because it will cover the whole Southern region,” he added.
Earlier this year, Communications and Digital Technologies Minister Khumbudzo Ntshavheni stated that Sentech would drive the project in collaboration with the National Space Agency and other key stakeholders.