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Communication satellite project awaits $350 million finance

Ethiopia’s project to put its first communication satellite into orbit is on hold as the search for finances continues. The project, which will be realized in three years if the finance is secured, is estimated to cost between USD 300 to USD 350 million.

The Ethiopian Space Science and Technology Institute (ESSTI), which will merge with the Ethiopian Geospatial Information Institute after the council of minister approved a new regulation a week ago, finalized the feasibility study of the Ethiopian communication satellite project, Abdisa Yilma, director general of the institute, told The Reporter.

The institute has secured an orbital line from the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), at 58.3 east degree, which Abdisa fears might be re-allocated for another country, unless Ethiopia utilizes it soon.

The satellite is planned to substitute the foreign currency spent by Ethiopian broadcasters to pay rent for satellites from other countries. Ethio telecom can also use the satellite.

Currently, Ethiopia utilizes five rented satellites from other countries. For instance, USD 15 to USD 20 is paid per square kilometer for observatory satellite lease.

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“Each USD spent on the new Ethiopian communication satellite will have a USD three in return,” Abdisa said.

Ethiopia, for the first time launched a remote sensing and land observation satellites, in cooperation with china. The first was launched in December 2019, while the second was launched a year later. The satellites pass over Ethiopia every 31 days, covering an 80 kilometer wide view at once.

“Given Ethiopia’s large geographical area, which is at around 1.2 million square kilometers, many satellites are required to cover the whole of Ethiopia. More satellites are required for remote sensing, agriculture, communication as well as military,” added Abdisa.

The government plans to launch three satellites in ten years, among other ambitious targets in the field.

To this end, the institute, in collaboration with AAU and Addis Ababa Technology University, has launched an aerodynamics field at PhD and master’s level.

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