Let us embrace satellite technology

The 'Future – Sat Africa Summit' held in Addis Ababa Ethiopia recently came at a time when African countries are highly engaged in promoting the use of Information Communication Technologies (ICT) as well as development of Information Communication Technology infrastructures.

The coming of devolution in Kenya in 2013, for instance, has seen county governments invest heavily in ICT infrastructure to boost their service delivery. However, infrastructure cannot be without satellite technology.

The satellite communication service industry has grown more rapidly than was forecast in 1992. To say the least, this growth has been a phenomenal global occurrence since the economies of the world have increased and improved a great deal, to the extent of requiring increased communication services for both business and consumer markets.

With this increased demand and the recent large, rapid expansion of business, consumer terrestrial mobile and internet communication services have opened new opportunities for satellite communication. Mobile and Internet transport access businesses have stimulated the demand for new multi-state satellite constellation to serve this market on both national and international scale.

These large and rapidly growing satellite-based business opportunities have attracted the attention of government and industrial interests of many countries and these nations are making significant investments in terms of new capital to enable them to participate in this growth market.

The expansion of satellites into new applications and the increased global demand for satellite communication services have attracted the attention of the investment community.

This has resulted in the formation of new satellite service providers and stimulated mergers and acquisitions, the creation of new companies, the formation of global partnership and the privatisation of formerly public satellite service organisations.

Increasingly, satellite is no longer being viewed as a simple, “bent pipe” but as an important component of a large global communications networking system, requiring interoperability between satellite and terrestrial communication components and thus compatible protocols and standards.

The integration of satellites into the global network will require the satellite industry to assume large software operations and develop new end-user services to the wider region, so that it may be received by many different customers processing compatible equipment.

Another use of satellite is observation wherein satellite is equipped with cameras, various sensors and it merely downlinks any information it picks up from its vantage point.

It is against this background that I urge all stakeholders to take the resolutions arrived at in Ethiopia during the ‘Future-Sat Africa Conference’ very seriously and network more so that we can move a notch higher in terms of embracing and accommodating satellite technologies and further expand connectivity.

This will no doubt reduce the digital divide that has continued to exist between rural and urban set-ups. Needless to say, I am convinced that Kenya is willing and ready to forge partnerships with other like-minded countries and Information Communication Technology experts to close this digital gap, particularly given that we are now running semi-autonomous units, known as the county governments.

As county governments, we appreciate the fact that ICT is the bedrock of development. But as we invest in it, we must also be aware that cyber crime is on the rise. Inevitably, this calls for a strong, counter-strategy that can shield us from a possible attack. Certainly, this calls for more resources, which most county governments in Kenya are grappling with.

It is my sincere hope that with such a summit, we do not only share experiences with the many experts on board, but we can all learn from each other and by this, increase an awareness and knowledge on how current ICTs can support development in the whole of Africa and beyond.