The African space industry keeps growing, after spending USD 717 Million on satellites launched in 2019 and launching a record eight satellites in the same year, the industry is keeping up to momentum. By 2024, it is expected to grow over USD 10 billion and more than 19 African countries are expected to have launched at least one satellite by then. One of the countries expected to launch its first satellite before the end of the year is Tunisia.
In 2019, Tunisian aerospace and telecommunications company, TELNET Holding signed a tripartite deal with two Russian companies, SPUTNIX and GK Launch Services, to launch a constellation of 30 nanosatellites satellites by 2023 for the development of a network of IoT applications. Space in Africa reported that the first of the satellites, ChallengeOne produced by TELNET Company with support from Russia was scheduled to be launched on Soyuz 2 spacecraft in July 2020, however, this has been changed to later in the year. Telnet aims to progressively deploy the remaining constellation over the next decade.
Anis Youssef, the Head of Innovation Activities at Telnet while speaking on AfricaNews said “Telnet’s specificity – as a Tunisian company – is that we are not buying a satellite. We are developing one ourselves. All this is in the interest of creating a gateway between Russia and Tunisia, around space nanosatellites, and the technology of the Internet of Things (IoT).”
Using IoT technologies, the satellites are being built in Telnet’s lab in Tunisia with many possibilities of applications ranging from remote sensing, agriculture and surveillance.
Mohammed Frikha, CEO of Telnet Holding said “After the revolution (Tunisia) was a country that successfully established a democracy, she showed the world that an Arab and Muslim country, can be successful in democracy. In the world, countries are valued by two things: by democracy and by technology. I think that in Tunisia we have potential I am personally convinced of that and justifiably this project will give a very good image of Tunisia in the world and it will also give Tunisians the confidence that we are capable of becoming one of the leaders of technology.”
The launch is expected on Soyuz-2 rocket (the new generation of Soyuz launchers features high reliability, multi-functionality, and eco-friendliness) scheduled for October-November 2020 from Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan. Despite challenges with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Telnet as a telecommunications company has not been adversely affected especially as it is seeing a rise in the use of its videoconferencing technology.