Tanzania secures orbital space for maiden satellite launch

TANZANIA: TANZANIA has successfully secured a pivotal orbital position for its inaugural broadcasting satellite.

The move is arguably an important milestone for the country’s broadcasting sector, propelling it into the space age.

The noteworthy announcement was formally disclosed by the Minister for Information, Communication and Information Technology, Mr Nape Nnauye, when he highlighted the positive outcome of collaborative international efforts deliberated during the recently concluded 2023 World Radiocommunication Conference (WRC23) in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE).

The culmination of these endeavours in Dubai on December 15, last year, solidifies Tanzania’s position in the global space arena and sets the stage for a promising future in satellite communication, said Minister Nape.

At the well-attended conference, Minister Nape acknowledged the collective efforts invested on an international level, expressing that the success is one of the fruits of the 2023 World Radiocommunication Conference (WRC23) and the determined efforts of the government of Tanzania under the leadership of President Samia Suluhu Hassan.

In July 2023, the Minister emphasised the country’s commitment to launching its first satellite.

Regarding the development achieved so far, Tanzania is on the verge of joining the ranks of nations utilising the potential of satellite technology to enhance communication services for its people.

Commenting on the development, Dr Francis Ng’atigwa, who lectures in communication studies at St Augustine University of Tanzania (SAUT), said that the acquisition of an orbital slot at 16 degrees West showcases the country’s dedication to advancing technology on a global level.

“I believe we are going to have improved broadcasting services in our country, which is paramount in disseminating edutainment and further information, important tenets of any country’s development,” he remarked.

Mr John Athanas, a telecommunications engineer based in Dar es Salaam, argued that for the country to cut down communication-related costs, owning satellites is the way to go.

He noted that the country can incur substantial expenses by leasing satellite capacity from other countries or regional satellite spaces.

Membership fees charged by international organisations, often based on a country’s GDP and satellite usage, can range from millions to tens of millions of US dollars per year, particularly for entities like Intelsat.

Mr Athanas stressed the importance of strategic planning for ownership and effective utilisation, highlighting that while leasing capacity on others’ satellites is costly, having one’s own satellites is highly recommended for enhanced communication services.

He commented, “It is imperative for a country to invest in its satellites, as this not only fosters autonomy but also ensures optimal utilisation for improved communication services.”

Director General of the Tanzania Communications Regulatory Authority (TCRA), Dr Jabiri Bakari, acknowledged the significant progress made by the government in solidifying the country’s position in the communication sector.

He emphasised the crucial role of satellites in the communication infrastructure, considering them a vital component for years.

Tanzania has joined other African nations in adopting satellite technology, placing it alongside countries like Egypt, South Africa, Algeria, Nigeria, Morocco, Ghana, Kenya, Rwanda and Mauritius.

The country’s achievements at WRC23 go beyond securing orbital slots, as they have also successfully acquired frequencies within the 3600-3800 MHz range.

The frequencies, which are crucial for 5G technology, have the potential to bring about a significant transformation in internet speed, enhance the reach of the mobile network and drive economic growth by fostering digital communication advancements, according to TCRA czar.

The conference, which took place in Dubai from November 20 to December 15, 2023, brought together member countries of the ITU to engage in discussions and reach decisions regarding spectrum usage.

One of the key topics addressed was the expansion of spectrum to accommodate high-speed 5G technology.

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