The Democratic Republic of the Congo is reportedly consulting with the African Regional Organization for Satellite Communications (RASCOM) over the possibility of leveraging satellite technologies in improving connectivity and digital adoption in the country.
DR Congo’s Minister of Posts, Telecommunications and New Information and Communication Technologies (PT-NTIC), Augustin Kibassa Maliba, on 9 March, had a working session with RASCOM Director General Mamadou Sarr and top officials of the Ministry to review the needs of the central African country in terms of connectivity and how RASCOM’s services can help the country’s drive for digital transformation.
One of the major highlights of the session was the discussion on the country’s switch from analogue television to terrestrial digital television (TNT).
During the working session, the technical director of RASCOM presented a wide range of services including digital television, internet, universal services and how RASCOM can support the Congolese government.
“We have realized that since the launch of the first satellite, the DRC has been using the’s satellite for television channels. Its services are not very well known, many in Kinshasa do not know that it is RASCOM who offers the services. Currently, all states are in the process of digital transition and the DRC is in the same wave. It is in this setting that we came here to review the needs and ways of switching from analogue to digital. We are here to review all the needs, beyond the digital transition and connectivity, and to see how much the DRC is doing better getting involved not only in the operation of RASCOM as a founding member but also using the services of RASCOM with the new technology that we have put in place,” Sarr told the press after the working session.
“It is up to the authorities of the country to look into which framework we will cooperate to boost the ICTs in the DRC”, he added.
Founded in 1992 as a multilateral commercial satellite organization, RASCOM’s mission is to implement and operate a pan-African telecommunications satellite system by translating its indigenously-owned space segment into services and tools that bridge the digital divide in Africa. To achieve this mission, RASCOM established RascomStar, a privately-held satellite operator registered in Mauritius to commercialize its satellite system. RascomStar launched its first satellite Rascom-RQ1 in 2007 and a replacement Rascom-RQ1R in 2010 after the former failed in orbit due to propellant leakage, which significantly reduced its life expectancy to three years.
Satellite connectivity has the potential to bridge the digital divide in Congo considering that the central African country occupies the largest swathes by area in Sub-Saharan Africa with about 93.8% of its population still lacking access to the internet, according to Internet World Stats.
In related news, the Congolese regulator Autorite de Regulation des Postes et Telecom (ARPTC) has recently granted Liquid Telecom a licence to build a second submarine cable landing station.
Joseph Ibeh is a Mandela Washington Fellow and Senior Analyst at Space in Africa. His experience spans industry research and market analysis with a focus on African-grown NewSpace companies, commercial space industry, national space programmes and real-life application of space science for sustainable development in Africa.