Intelsat orders African satellite

Intelsat is joining with a South African investment consortium to put a $250bn satellite into orbit to serve the Continent. Intelsat and an investment group led by Convergence Partners said in a statement on Tuesday that the "Intelsat New Dawn" satellite was expected to enter service in early 2011 and would be funded by project financing.

Intelsat’s client partners include Kuwait’s fast-growing telco Zain, Telekom, Vodafone, all of which are said to be firm users of the craft.

Demand for fixed satellite services in Africa is growing given increased investment on the continent and as more people get hooked up to phones, the Internet and pay-TV. Poor communications are cited as a deterrent for foreign investment.

The companies said the project would cost about $250m and would be funded with 15% equity and 85% debt, with the debt coming in the form of non-recourse project financing provided by African institutions. Intelsat will provide 74.9% of the equity and Convergence Partners the balance.