Egyptian satellite operator Nilesat has launched the country’s ninth satellite into space to provide internet for people in Egypt’s rural areas.
The TIBA-1 satellite is owned and operated by the government of Egypt.
The majority stakeholder of Nilesat is public broadcaster Egyptian Radio & Television Union, with 40 percent ownership. Ten percent of Nilesat is owned by the Arab Organization for Industrialization and 9 percent by the Egyptian Company for Investment Projects. The remaining stake is owned by the Egyptian public, banks and other investors.
The satellite is expected to provide broadband communications and internet services to millions of people in remote and rural areas. More than 55 percent of Egypt’s population — about 57 million people — live in rural areas.
The satellite will also provide secure communication for the Egyptian military and government agencies. The Egyptian Space Agency will run the satellite from a control center in Cairo.
The newly orbited communication satellite will help ensure that Egyptians countrywide are less reliant on outside providers for internet and communications services, giving the Egyptian government more control over social media.
Since the Egyptian government owns and operates the satellite-based internet coverage, it can shut the internet down entirely if it decides to, as it did in 2011 when mass protests organized through social media eventually led to the resignation of President Hosni Mubarak.
TIBA-1’s coverage area includes some neighboring Arab and African countries which means that the new satellite gives Egypt the opportunity to sell satellite services to these countries, according to Egypt Today.
The satellite was launched from French Guiana, an overseas department of France on the northeast coast of South America at the Guiana Space Center, Europe’s Spaceport. Operational since 1968, the site in French Guiana is ideal as a spaceport becasue it is near the equator. Rockets launched from there use less energy to reach orbit.
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From 1998 to April 2019, 32 satellites have been launched into orbit by eight African countries including Algeria, Angola, Egypt, Ghana, Kenya, Morocco, Nigeria and South Africa, Space in Africa reports.
Three other satellites have been jointly funded by African space agencies. The TIBA-1 satellite is the 36th African-owned satellite in space.
The African satellites in orbit include 14 earth observation satellites, 11 communications satellites, eight technology demonstration satellites, a satellite for scientific experiments, an educational project satellite, and a military radar satellite.