By Robel Yohannes. Communication and Information Technology Minister Dr. Debretsion Gebremichael
The Ministry of Communication and Information Technology said that Ethiopia is taking initiatives to utilize space technology advantage at the opening of ‘Future Sat Africa Summit 2016’ here Tuesday in the presence of ministers, investors involved in the sector and key stakeholders from the continent.
The three-day Summit, held in Africa for the first time with the theme : ‘Digital Skies – Everyone Connected’, aims at highlighting the values of satellite communication technology on Africa’s socio-economic development.
Opening the Summit, Minister Dr. Debretsion Gebremichael, who is also Economic Cluster Coordinator with the Rank of Deputy Prime Minister, said that the Summit would provide a platform to share a rounded vision of how to continue to improve connectivity across the region, and address the needs and aspirations of ICT for the countries’ growth and development.
He also stated that the government believes that there will never be a single solution to the connectivity needs, and “satellite can support terrestrial networks to fill gaps in such areas as geographical blocked spots and restricted network coverage and provide reliable and affordable services.”
He added that as part of GTP II, Ethiopia has taken initiatives to utilize the advantages of space technology – already set to start a detail R&D program in space observatory system – in aspects of digital space connectivity inclusion and minimizing operational cost that is being allocated as rental fee for the satellite operators.
Presenting Ethiopia’s and ethio telecom current position to participants as host country, Chief Operating Officer Esayas Dagne said that it might be cost effective for Ethiopia to have a satellite capacity.
He said that Ethiopia has a very difficult terrain and it will be very difficult to address the services to citizens in every point of the country including in nomadic areas which are sparsely populated.
Esayas also said the Summit could serve as a platform to exchange information and experiences from participants, like if it is whether more beneficiary to buy or launch our own satellite. “We can also learn from other African countries like Nigeria, who have built their own satellite and are getting their own service as they were not able to reach to all their people through fiber and microwave connectivity.”
AU Infrastructure and Energy Commissioner Dr. Elham Ibrahim for her part said that space technology provides great opportunities for Africa in addressing sustainable development.
She added that AU member states and the African Union Commission have taken many initiatives since the 80s at continental level to make full use of the potential of space science for sustainable development, reinforce Africa’s capacity and ownership of using the technology, among other things.