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Afghanistan’s First Space Satellite

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Afghanistan’s First Space Satellite

The Council of Ministers last week approved the launch of Afghanistan’s first ever space satellite and sent expressions of interest to many international companies to attract funding.

By launching a space satellite, Afghanistan will step into the realm of the modern countries which manipulate new and advanced technologies.

The question is: how seriously it will be followed?

Vast satellite coverage capability from Afghanistan 

To launch a space satellite, each country has a specific position in outer space which is determined by the International Telecommunications Satellite Organisation. Afghanistan will launch its satellite at a position 50 Degrees East. Given the geographical position of Afghanistan, the satellite will be able to cover Asia, Europe, Australia and Africa.

According to the Afghan Ministry of Communications and Information Technology (MCIT), the geographical existence of Afghanistan is very valuable.

“The position is very valuable, that’s why we decided to launch a satellite in this position,” Amirzai Sangin, Minister of MCIT told TOLOnews.

Interests of countries and companies in the satellite

According to Sangin, already in the early stages of the process, many companies and even countries, including some American and European companies and the economics department of the Chinese Embassy in Kabul, have shown their interest to assist with the satellite launch.

“Several major American and Europe companies are interested,” Sangin said. “A French company named Eutel Sat and economic sector of the Chinese embassy have asked for information about the project.”

Communications to become Afghan 

For what purposes will Afghanistan use the satellite and how will it benefit the country?

Currently all communications in Afghanistan are connected through satellites of other countries. The first thing major change would be to connect all communications to this satellite.

“Most of communications in the past 10 years have been through other country’s satellites,” Sangin said.

“We want to connect all our communications to this satellite.”

The ministry added the satellite could provide communication facilities countrywide, connecting all districts and villages of the country.

Television stations in Afghanistan are paying huge amount of money to globalize their telecasts, so this satellite could very well bring the fees down. Plus, most of the TV channels are inaccessible in most of the villages in Afghanistan, but access will also improve once the satellite is launched.

Research and monitoring

Many countries use satellite services for research and monitoring, something Afghanistan’s satellite will also be used for. These days most countries control their military and security activities via satellite, and foreign forces in Afghanistan are using it to collect vast amounts of intelligence and security information.

However, Afghan Ministry of Defense (MoD) spokesman believes that confidentiality of this information is key to using satellite technology.

“The first is confidentiality of the data – it’s different to have a satellite under your control or one which is in the control of others,” General Zahir Azimi, MoD spokesman, said.

“Confidentiality of communications is very important for the Ministry of Defense.”

The satellite will save Afghanistan much money in fees

Afghanistan pays around $100 million each year to provide communication services.

Based on statistics from the MCIT, Afghanistan needs around 1,700 megabytes for its communications per year. With all its communication facilities being provided by other countries, costing money for each megabyte, plus the $100,000,000 for provision of satellite facilities to other countries, Afghanistan is set to save money in the long run.

Three years to go 

It will take at least three years to launch the satellite, with the total cost ranging between $200 to $300 million. The MCIT says some major international countries have shown interest in sharing the costs with the Afghan government.

Meanwhile, having a satellite means there may be technical problems as well, as Farhad Ghafoor, IT and communications expert says. But on the upside, the fact that these technologies have an expiry date means there is more interest in Afghanistan.

Many satellite providers have technologies which are expiring. Some companies in Pakistan and European countries are providing satellites which will only work for a few more years, and there is a possibility that such companies will show more interest in Afghanistan.

Source: TOLO News



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