South Africa to Fund Satellite Project Through Public Private Partnership

South Africa's SumbandilaSat. Source: commercialspace.co.uk

Sentech, South Africa’s state-owned provider of electronic communications network services, is calling for private partners to join its USD 300 Million communications satellite project. Flenk Mnisi, the head of media and broadcast at Sentech, said the project would be a partnership between the public and private sector.

“From an investment perspective, we are looking at a capital investment of USD 300 million. This amount will cover the lifespan of the satellite, which is 20 years,” Mnisi told delegates at the Africa Tech Week. “We propose that we go on a private-public partnership model and invite other players, such as entrepreneurs. The idea is to build a medium-sized high-throughput satellite that will cover the region and be able to provide services,” Mnisi said.

“We are trying to bridge the digital gap and ensure that rural areas and other places outside urban centres are not left out of the digital economy.” Mnisi explained that the satellite would provide “complementary technology – not a one-size-fits-all” solution to the country’s output of digital technology infrastructure.

Mnisi stated that the development of the satellite would be a “long journey” with local and international regulatory hurdles. “It is our national satellite programme, but we call it the Pan-African satellite because it will cover the whole region.”

Earlier this year, Khumbudzo Ntshavheni, the Communications and Digital Technologies Minister, said Sentech would drive the project in partnership with the South Africa National Space Agency (SANSA) and other key stakeholders. She noted that owning a satellite would reduce leasing costs for the government and other relevant industries. She added that it would also improve the country’s information security.

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