Afghanistan seeks partners to launch first domestic satellite

by Staff Reporter | April 10th, 2012

Afghanistan’s minister of communication and information technology, Amir Zai Sangin

The Afghanistan government is seeking a partner to launch the country’s first communication satellite into space within the next six months, according to Afghanistan’s minister of communication and information technology, Amir Zai Sangin.

“We will start the installation process of the satellite very soon,” Amir Zai Sangin was quoted as saying by Afghanistan’s Tolo television. “It’s our priority to solve broadcasting issues and bring all our districts under coverage.”

Afghanistan’s press is reportedly among the region’s most free, and dozens of channels compete for audiences, showing everything from hard news to cooking programmes and religious discussions.

There are so many competing channels that the country is facing a shortage of frequencies, Sangin said

There are so many competing channels that the country is facing a shortage of frequencies for them, Sangin said. The satellite launch, in tandem with a shift to digital broadcasting from analogue transmission, should resolve the problem, he added.

Internet access is largely via satellite, but it is slow and expensive, and fewer than one in 10 Afghans are online. But telecommunications officials say that the satellite will not be a drain on Afghanistan’s already fragile finances, because the country has been awarded an orbital slot that should attract commercial partners.

“We would like to partner with an international satellite company to launch an Afghan satellite,” said Abdul Malak Nazari, a board member on Afghanistan’s telecoms regulator, which is handling the tender process.

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