Access to information and knowledge through affordable communications is now widely recognized as a huge opportunity for social and economic growth, regional cooperation and integration, and boosting people’s participation in the rising global information society. Unfortunately, in Africa, satellite communications penetration is still low though it has the potential to complement considerably other terrestrial connectivity.
Even though terrestrial connectivity has contributed to enabling connectivity in Africa, significant underserved or unserved areas need connectivity to achieve universal access to communication. In addition, although ubiquitous, terrestrial telecommunication has been facing the challenge of assuring high reliability in times of disaster or damage by human activities like road construction or vandalism. To overcome this limitation, satellite communication is poised to become a good complement to terrestrial services.
Multiple African states are seeking to leverage space to further national policy objectives and drive sustainable development in their countries, often through the establishment of dedicated space programs and agencies. To do so requires national policies, and legislative and regulatory frameworks for space services to be in place, that ensure a favourable environment for the deployment and uptake of these satellite services. There are currently few African regional policies on satellite services, and regulatory harmonisation is minimal.
In a quest to promote satellite communication in Africa, Rwanda Space Agency (RSA) is partnering with the Global Satellite Operator’s Association (GSAO) to organise a two days workshop in Kigali from 6th to 7th June 2022 on the sidelines of the World Telecommunication Development Conference that will be hosted in Kigali from 6th to 16th June 2022.
The workshop aims to dialogue between global satellite operators and African Space Agencies on the best way to enhance the penetration of satellite communication services on the continent for broadband connectivity. The workshop will also feature discussions regarding the issue of satellite orbital slots, which is a critical problem that we need to address for the future development of the African satellite industry.
Furthermore, the meeting will also provide an opportunity for African Space Agencies to discuss their agendas and ambitions with GSOA members and given that GSOA’s mission is to assist policymakers in bridging digital and socioeconomic divides, the African Space Agencies are perfectly positioned to lead this effort and to connect GSOA’s mission along with sustainable development policies.
This meeting will have three main high-level objectives:
1. Structural Establishment: This will include discussions around,
- Raising awareness and enhancing the growth of satellite communication services in Africa;
- Protection of frequency spectrum for space and satellite services;
- Establishing a continuous dialogue with satellite operators to ensure affordability of satellite communication services on the continent; and
- Support the development of expertise and advancements in satellite communications regionally.
2. Review and improvement of legal and regulatory framework: The establishment and promotion of a licensing framework for satellite communications services in Africa will be discussed.
3. Other satellite communications challenges: To discuss any other satellite communications challenges. These difficulties might be both technical and fall within the purview of each entity.
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