Ethiopia: Ethio Telecom Plans To Buy Communications Satellite

According to the Ethiopian news hub, The Reporter, Ethiopia’s state-owned telecommunications operator, Ethio Telecom, is toying with the idea of acquiring a communications satellite to provide connectivity to rural areas of Ethiopia as well as to economic industries in the northeast African country that stand to benefit from telecoms infrastructure, such as mining and agriculture.

It has been reported that this is not the first time that Ethio Telecom has thought about acquiring its own communications satellite. A previous effort to do so was declined when another Ethiopian government business, the Information Network Security Agency (INSA) also proposed to purchase its own communications satellite.
An official from Ethio Telecom said that back then it was decided that it would be a waste of resources for the government to grant the same proposal to two organisations; therefore Ethio Telecom had to withdraw.
The INSA communications satellite ultimately did not materialise, and now Ethio Telecom’s executives believe that the time is perfect to go ahead with a new proposal to acquire a communications satellite.

According to The Reporter, Ethio Telecom spends approximately $12 million a year on just on leasing commercial satellite communications, and this amount does not even include money that is consumed by Ethiopian military, business, media and other government departments on satellite communications.

Some Ethiopian analysts believe that relying on foreign sources for satellite connectivity poses a risk to the country, and so the number of Ethiopian officials and experts who are advocating for a locally-owned communications satellite is growing.
One Ethiopian telecoms expert told The Reporter that Ethio Telecom could reduce its operation cost by a staggering amount if it purchased its own communication satellite.

In 2018, SpaceWatch Africa reported that the Addis Ababa University, in cooperation with China, was building an Earth observation satellite that was expected to be launched in September 2019.

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