Intelsat New Dawn, billed as Africa’s first-ever African-led and private sector-backed communications satellite will blast off into space on 29 March from Arianespace’s launch site in French Guiana.
The US$250m satellite, a joint venture between a consortium led by Andile Ngcaba’s Convergence Partners and Intelsat, will provide communications infrastructure to Africa using 28 C-band and 24 Ku-band 36MHz transponders.
Operating from a geostationary orbital slot at 32,8 degrees east, the satellite will be positioned to serve the continent through a payload optimised to deliver wireless backhaul, broadband and media content. These are the fastest growing satellite-based applications in Africa, Intelsat and Convergence Partners say in a statement.
The Intelsat New Dawn venture has been approximately 90% funded from African sources. The Convergence Partners consortium also includes strategic shareholder Altirah Telecoms and the not-for-profit Convergence Partners Foundation.
Customers that have sought capacity in advance of launch include Vodacom International, Gateway Communications, Bharti Airtel and Gilat Satcom.
Ngcaba says the project has been in development for the past five years, with the last two-and-a-half years focusing on construction.
Commissioned in December 2008 and built by Orbital Sciences Corporation, the satellite will be operated and marketed as a part of the global Intelsat fleet, bringing to 22 the number of Intelsat satellites serving Africa.
Arianespace was selected as the launch partner and will use the most powerful version in the Ariane 5 range, the Ariane 5 ECA (Cryogenic Evolution type A), carrying two satellites, the Intelsat New Dawn and the Yahsat 1A, into orbit. — Staff reporter, TechCentral