The African Development Bank (AfDB) signs loan agreement for the first pan-African Satellite.
On January 17th, alongside its partners, the African Development Bank signed the Loan agreement for the RascomStar-QSF project alongside its development partners. The loan is the final piece of the financing arrangements that will see the launch of the first pan-African communications satellite on 20th December. The total investment in the project is US$380 million of which the Bank provided a loan of US$50 million. Other lenders to the project include the Banque de Developpement des Etats de l’Afrique Centrale (BDEAC) and the Banque Ouest Africaine de Developpement (BOAD), while equity investors include the Libyan African Investment Portfolio, General Post and Telecommunications Company, Regional African Satellite Communications Organizations Members (RASCOM) and Thales Alenia Space.
The satellite will help provide solutions to a number of problems that Africa suffers from in the field of telecommunications. The main aim of the project is to spread the telecommunications network into rural areas on a large scale and at low costs. This will be done by providing satellite services in areas that cannot presently be served economically by terrestrial infrastructure. Approximately 80% of the African population live in rural areas and the Bank estimates that these rural end-users will be the beneficiaries of a total consumer surplus of US$1.2 billion. Additionally, farmers will have better access to information and schools will have access to new sources of education.
Furthermore, the satellite will lower the costs for interconnectivity of networks within Africa. At present, African telecoms operators pay a high transit cost to foreign satellites that provide linkage between the different networks. The implementation of this project will therefore realize savings of millions of dollars currently paid out annually to satellite operators outside the continent as well as the lowering of costs for telecommunications end-users across the continent. A final feature of the project is the facilitation of television, broadcasting, internet and other value-added services for telecoms, internet service providers, TV broadcasters and data content providers. The launch of the satellite will be broadcast via the rascomstar website www.rascomstar.com There will be a link that will be activated 20 min before the event scheduled for the 20th Dec at 21 h GMT.