The Intelsat New Dawn satellite, which will almost entirely serve the African market, will take to the skies on Wednesday night from a launch complex in French Guiana.
Intelsat MD for Africa sales Jon Osler says the New Dawn venture, in partnership with Andile Ngcaba’s Convergence Partners, will address Africa’s “much needed” requirements to optimise services for telecommunications providers, broadband providers and the media industry in Africa.
Convergence Partners and Intelsat have invested about 15% of the project’s capital cost, with Intelsat owning most of the equity. The rest of the project was funded through debt, primarily from the African Development Bank.
The project cost is US$250m.
New Dawn will be launched just before midnight on Wednesday from the Kourou complex owned and run by international aerospace company Arianespace on top of a Russian-built rocket, Ariane 5. It will be the second launch for the French company this year.
The satellite weighs 1 254kg and has been built with an expected lifespan of 17 years.
To bring connectivity to the continent, Ellies Holdings and Q-Kon have created a joint venture Internet company called SkyeVine, which will target, among others, small business and government agencies.
Osler says Africa is starved of proper connectivity, especially in terms of backhaul. Despite the boom in international undersea cable capacity around the continent, there is still a lack of fixed-line access, he says.
“The challenge is that terrestrial services will never be able to cover the whole of Africa. Satellite can blanket the entire continent and that is what the new satellite will do,” he says.
Osler says about 60% of the capacity on the satellite has already been sold to several high-profile operators. Bharti Airtel, which recently bought all of Zain’s African assets, Vodacom, Telkom’s Afsat and Gateway Communications are among the customers to buy capacity. — Candice Jones, TechCentral