Kenya plans satellites revamp


Broadcasting and Telecoms PS Esther Koimett on February 18, 2020. PHOTO | DIANA NGILA

Kenya is set to acquire new parking spots (orbital slots) for its telecommunication satellites in a move expected to boost the performance.

This follows a decision last year by the International Telecommunication Union to have 31 African countries pick new orbital positions to replace their current slots.

On Monday, delegates from various countries began their five-day workshop in Nairobi when they will be trained in locking down the orbital slots.

“As a country, we are honoured to host this very important workshop that was conceptualised to help enhance the capacity of African countries to streamline the satellite orbital resource plan for broadcasting satellite services,” said Esther Koimett, the Broadcasting and Telecoms principal secretary.

The satellites are mostly parked in the geostationary orbit — about 35,786 kilometres above the Earth’s equator — and must be at least two degrees or 1,000km apart to avoid interference.

With a large part of the country still not on the grid and other parts sparsely populated, the push to acquire new orbital slots has become paramount in boosting communication.

“It is more cost-effective to own the slots as opposed to leasing space,” said Mercy Wanjau, acting director general, the Communications Authority of Kenya. She added that at the end of the week-long event, countries will know how and where to lock down the orbital slots.

According to Ms Koimett, agricultural, medical, education and many other sectors are using satellites widely to deploy services faster.

“With satellite application evidently woven in the fabric of our daily lives, we may as well exploit the potential and use them optimally. It is, therefore, upon us to ensure their maximum use for the benefit of humanity,” she said.

Countries attending the meeting will be guided on compliance, including identification of new orbital positions and frequency channels.

Satellites act as an alternative communication channel when terrestrial services are not available or in case of cuts in the undersea cables.

In addition, Kenya has been relying on satellite to track the locust invasion that has been spreading across the country.