The Sunday Mail
ZIMBABWE has taken another step towards realisation of a vision to launch its satellites into space after finalising a $25 million agreement to upgrade the TelOne Satellite Centre in Mazowe and improve signal distribution.
The country pays millions of United States dollars annually to neighbouring countries for foreign satellite services, mainly for television, with information showing MultiChoice, the owner of DSTV, pockets over US$18 million yearly in subscriptions from Zimbabweans.
The Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe (BAZ) also pays a French company US$1,2 million annually for radio and television satellite signals.
In an interview, Higher and Tertiary Education, Innovation, Science and Technology Development Minister Professor Amon Murwira said the refurbishment of the Mazowe Satellite Station would begin soon.
He said the addition of infrastructure to the centre would save Zimbabwe millions of dollars it pays other countries for the communication services.
“We hope that as we start the next quarter, work will have begun.
‘‘The work will be done by staff from our ministry. More than $25 million has been allocated to us for the setting up of infrastructure at the centre in Mazowe.
“Imagine how many people are paying for satellite television countrywide and all those millions in foreign currency we are paying to other countries.
“Once the country is able to receive satellite information we will no longer be paying all this money,” Prof Murwira said.
BAZ chief executive officer Mr Obert Muganyura said the investment towards Zimbabwe’s own satellite was positive in light of global developments.
“Ideally we should have optical fibre connectivity for distribution of broadcast signals from the studio facilities to each of the transmitter sites located across the country,” he said.
“However, we do not have that optical fibre connectivity hence the reliance on satellite signal distribution.
“US$1,2 million is paid annually to other countries for the distribution of broadcasting signals to the transmission network.
“If Zimbabwe were to launch its own satellite, the costs would fall away and savings would be made in the long term.
“Such a satellite will also not be confined to broadcasting as it can be used for other existing and new applications which currently require leasing at a significant cost to Zimbabwe.”
President Mnangagwa launched the Zimbabwe National Geospatial and Space Agency (ZINGSA) in 2018, with sights set on harnessing satellite technology and aiding economic growth.
Despite not having a fixed base, ZINGSA has been working on a number of projects including the revision of Zimbabwe’s agri-ecological regions.