China to Launch Second African Satellite

After launching a second satellite for Venezuela, Chinese state media reports China is now planning for a launch of a second African satellite. This announcement comes amid recent tensions in Africa surrounding the murder of two Chinese nationals in Nigeria. From the Global Times:

The state-owned China Aerospace & Technology Corporation (CASC) will team up with China Telecom to provide communication satellite in-orbit delivery for the Democratic Republic of the Congo, according to a commercial contract inked Saturday in Zhuhai.

The satellite, CongoSat-01, will be launched from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in southwest China’s Sichuan Province within three years from when the contract takes effect, according to Great Wall Industry Corporation (CGWIC), a CASC subsidiary that signed the contract with DR Congo’s National Network of Satellite Telecommunications (Renatelsat).

DR Congo is the second African country to ink a satellite delivery contract with China. Nigeria became the first in December 2004, when it signed a contract with CGWIC.

The satellite is expected to cover DR Congo and the whole of Southern-Central Africa, CGWIC said.

Aside from the satellite itself, AsiaOne reports China will also build the ground control and training facilities for the Democratic Republic of Congo:

China Telecom, one of the country’s biggest telecommunications companies, will also play an active role in the project by upgrading the operation system and providing management services to the network.

“Today is a big day, a historic day, for us,” Richard Achinda Wahilungula, director-general of the Congolese network, said after signing the contract.

“China has abundant experience in satellites and telecommunication. We came here because China can help us develop a satellite and telecommunication, and we never contacted anyone else for this project.”

“Compared with Western nations, China’s satellite technology may arguably not be the most advanced, but it definitely suits the demand of Africa. China has reduced African countries’ satellite operation costs and trained a great number of professionals for us,” said Bode Agusto, who was senior budget adviser to former Nigerian president Olusegun Obasanjo, according to an earlier report from Xinhua News Agency.

Earlier this year, according to Xinhua, China launched its own navigation satellite to serve the Asia Pacific region.

November 18, 2012 9:31 AM
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