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For Africa and the Middle East, the world just got a whole lot smaller

Successful launch of new RASCOM and NILESAT communications satellites promises
unprecedented connectivity to advanced ICT services across the entire region

Kourou, French Guiana, 5 August 2010 - ITU hails a new era of pan-regional connectivity with the successful launch of the RASCOM-QAF1R and NILESAT 201 communications satellites last night.

Launched via an Ariane 5 vehicle from the Kourou Spaceport in French Guiana, the new satellites will greatly enhance access to a wide range of information and communication (ICT) services for millions in Africa and the Middle East.

In addition to providing access to the information and communication services businesses need to compete in today’s global markets, the new systems will deliver broadcast news and entertainment, as well as serving as a platform for new applications in areas like distance education and telemedicine, which will be vital to improving the lives of local people and helping governments achieve the Millennium Development Goals, now just five years away.

Speaking from Kourou where he attended the launch, ITU Secretary-General Dr Hamadoun Touré said: “The launch of state-of-the-art satellite systems has been a long and much-cherished dream for the region and its people. This launch represents another major milestone in getting the region’s communities better connected. In addition to providing low cost international connections between African countries and connecting isolated villages via low cost terminals, the RASCOM-QAF1R will provide direct TV and radio broadcasting services, Internet access and value-added broadband services. NILESAT for its part will bring subscribers instantaneous access to news, information and entertainment, as well as the high-speed data that is the cornerstone of modern life. The launch of these two systems represents another huge step forward in bridging the digital divide, and reinforces the importance of making new technologies like broadband accessible to all the world’s people.”

The RASCOM and NILESAT 201 satellites were stacked one on top of the other in the Ariane 5’s dual payload dispenser system. To be deployed first during the flight sequence, NILESAT 201 is fitted with 24 Ku-band and 4 Ka-band transponders. It will be positioned at an orbital slot of 7 degrees west, delivering digital Direct-to-Home TV and radio broadcasting to the Middle East and North Africa from September 2010.

The second in the launcher payload ‘stack’, situated just above the launch vehicle’s core stage, the RASCOM-QAF1R system will be positioned at an orbital slot of 2.85 degrees east, and will ensure service continuity for the RascomStar-QAF operator and its customers, providing Africans in 45 countries with access to advanced communications and information technologies, and in particular rural telephony. Equipped with 24 equivalent 36 MHz transponders in both Ku-band and C-band, its footprint covers the entire African continent, as well as parts of Europe and the Middle East. It the most powerful satellite ever to serve the African continent.

Photos from the launch site can be found at: www.itu.int/net/pressoffice/photolibrary/multi_select.aspx?id=102218|102219|102220|102221

Video of the launch can viewed on the Arianespace Video Corner website at:


For more information, please contact:

Sarah Parkes
ITU Media Relations
tel +41 22 730 6135
email pressinfo@itu.int
Toby Johnson
Senior Communications Officer, ITU
tel +41 22 730 5877
mobile +41 79 249 4868
email toby.johnson@itu.int


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