GVF SUMMIT ASKS: DOES BROADBAND SATELLITE MAKE SENSE FOR WEST AFRICA?

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This is one of the many questions that the GVF West Africa Satellite Communications Summit will try to answer in Abuja, 31 October to 2 November. With a welcoming address by Professor Isoun Turner, Honourable Minister of Science & Technology of the Nigerian Federal Government, the Summit will be further enhanced with the expert contribution of several leading figures in the West, and wider, African information and communications technology (ICT) environment, including from the Nigerian National Space Research & Development Agency (NASRDA), the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), NigComSat Ltd, the West African Telecommunications Regulators Assembly (WATRA), the Regional African Satellite Communications Organisation (RASCOM), and the Association of Telecom Companies of Nigeria (ATCON). In addition, the NCC and WATRA have officially endorsed the Summit.

Martin Jarrold, Chairman of the West Africa Satellite Communications Summit, said that "the Ministerial Welcoming Address will be an invaluable contribution to the Summit proceedings, providing international speakers and delegates with a privileged insight into the wealth of opportunity associated with the continuing development of ICT - with particular reference to satellite - in Nigeria and its West African neighbours."

The West Africa Satellite Communications Summit is dedicated to promoting and provisioning the dialogue surrounding the deployment of satellite-based communications solutions across the region, and contributing a key element of this dialogue will be NigComSat Ltd, principal sponsor of the Summit. NigComSat Ltd will manage and operate the NigComSat-1 geostationary communications satellite, commissioned by the Nigerian National Space Research & Development Agency (NASRDA), and scheduled for launch in 2007.

A principal feature of the Summit will be high-level executive participation from end-users of satellite and satellite-hybrid communications solutions in the region's economically vital vertical markets. The verticals to be included in the Summit programme are banking & other financial services, mobile communications, and the energy sector.

The private satellite communications sector will be represented in the Summit programme by organisations including Hughes Network Systems, Sky2Net, Intelsat, Satlynx, TelNet Network Services, Gilat Satellite Networks, and PCCW Global.

With the accelerating growth of the regional communications end-user community creating heightened demand for access solutions, a wealth of international satcoms solutions providers aiming to match their supply to that demand, and Nigeria's domestic satellite initiatives, West Africa is indeed heading for more broadband satellite. But, does it make sense? As always, time will tell, but we haven't got long to wait before we will know for sure.