Afghanistan plans satellite future with Eutelsat

January 29, 2014 10.42 Europe/London By Julian Clover

Eutelsat - Communications System Control Centre (Rambouillet, France)Afghanistan has signed a strategic partnership with Eutelsat that it hopes will accelerate access to satellite infrastructure for digital services.

The agreement between Eutelsat Communications and the Afghanistan Ministry of Communications & Information Technology (MCIT) will see Eutelsat deploy an in-orbit satellite from February 2014 to 48 degrees East to deliver full national coverage and extensive reach of Central Asia and the Middle East. The satellite will be officially called AFGHANSAT 1 by the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, reflecting Afghanistan’s entry into the commercial satellite business.

Commenting on the agreement, His Excellency Minister Sangin said: “AFGHANSAT 1 is a new milestone in the development of the ICT sector in Afghanistan, which in the last 12 years has already seen mobile telephony coverage of 88% and penetration grow from zero to 75% through the licensing of six operators, ICT sector employment provided for more than 138,000 people and more than $2.1 billion invested in the national economy. We are very happy to partner with Eutelsat on AFGHANSAT 1 which will provide access to ICT and broadcast services to Afghans, especially in unserved areas, and support our vision of transforming Afghanistan into an information society.”

Speaking at the signing ceremony at the MCIT in Kabul, Michel de Rosen, Chairman and CEO of Eutelsat, said: “This MOU represents the fastest and most effective route to accessing infrastructure configured to deliver full coverage of Afghanistan and surrounding regions. It enables Afghanistan to scale up capacity as and when needed and to offer broadcasters, telcos and ISPs the immediate benefit of resources providing exceptional reach and performance. We are honoured to be Afghanistan’s chosen partner for this important initiative.”