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Eutelsat joins race for Ethiopia’s telecom sector

Eutelsat joins race for Ethiopia’s telecom sector

The France based, European Organization of Telecommunications by Satellite S.A. (Eutelsat) has expressed its interest to join the Ethiopian telecommunications sector, following the liberalization decision taken by the government.

Nicholas Baravalle, Vice-president for Sub-Saharan Africa at Eutelsat in London told The Reporter via a social media interview that the telecom deregulation measure taken by the government has created an interest in the market,and Eutelsat want to tap into this opportunity. The liberalization process, according to Baravalle, will impact and bring “massive changes” to the sector. 

In addition to considering joining the sector, the satellite operator is longing to launch a satellite-based internet services. According to Philippe Oliva, chief commercial officer with Eutelsat, the operator is in discussions with Ethiopian officials on its proposals. Furthermore, Baravalle said that Eutelsat is aware of the government’s projects to launch its own satellite to orbit. However, since satellites have specific activities, it is difficult to determine what specific jobs Ethiopia’s future satellite performs, except hearing officials say they will launch a telecommunications and data satellite. 

According to the Vice-president,Eutelsat operates more than 1,500 video broadcasting channels in Africa. There are 200 HD channels, and 200 channels are particularly appealing to Ethiopian viewers. For Ethiopia, there are 67 Ethiopian TV channels hosted by Eutelsat and out of which 47 are exclusive to Eutelsat, Baravalle said.

Eutelsat has conducted market research through an independent consultant; and 4 million TV homes in Ethiopia (9 out of 10) use Eutelsat, mostly on the 7/8° west orbital position and there are 5.2 million TV homes that have access to satellite signal.

As to the rumors that Eutelsat is going to exit the Ethiopian market, Baravalle countered saying that, the satellite operator is extending its services in Ethiopia and demand is increasing as viewership is growing.

“Three to Five channels per month are joining Eutelsat now. Channel numbering and electronic program guides are exclusively provided by Eutelsat for Ethiopian viewers, to facilitate access to 200 channels,” Baravalle said.

Eutelsat has been active for 10 years and growing in the Ethiopian market. Its satellites are used for video broadcasting, satellite news gathering, broadband services, data connectivity, connecting airplanes and ships;and enable mission-critical government and NGO communication needs.

A new satellite was launched back in June and it is said that it will serve video markets in Africa, and Ethiopia will also have steerable beam in a few weeks’ time. 

The satellite operator was established as a state-owned global organization in France in 1977 and was able to launch its first satellite in 1983, until it was privatized in 2001. With a fleet of 37 satellites serving broadcasters, video service providers, telecom operators, ISPs; and government agencies operating across Europe, Africa, Asia and the Americas; Eutelsat remains to be one of the leading operators in the commercial satellite business.