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Afghan satellite project “on verge of collapse”

Local reports suggest that Afghanistan’s Ministry of Communications has suffered alleged negligence which has brought the country’s proposed Afghansat-1 to the “brink of collapse” and threatens a loss of “millions of dollars”. The Afghan government holds a contract with Paris-based satellite operator Eutelsat with an obligation to pay Eutelsat $4 million annually.

Nasrat Rahimi, the former official spokesman at the ministry, quoted by BBC Monitoring, says that negligence (allegedly by the Minister of Communications) has brought the expensive satellite project to the brink of collapse and that if it is not made ready for use this year, Afghanistan will make a loss of a total of $19 million annually.

Rahimi worked at the ministry and has complete information about the matter. He told Afghan Islamic Press on January 26th that  Afghanistan’s contract with Eutelsat was that the satellite should be prepared for use this year and Afghanistan should pay €4 million annually to Eutelsat but the satellite has not been used so far, nor has it made any revenues.

A source at the Ministry of Telecommunication told Afghan Islamic Press that domestic and foreign companies had asked the minister to sign a contract for the activation of Afghansat1 with them but the minister had not done so.

According to the source, the Afghan government should have earned $15 million in revenues from Afghansat-1 annually starting last year, but nothing had been earned during last year.

Afghansat-1 has a long and colourful history. Launched in December 2008, and now known as Eutelsat 48D, it operates from 48 degrees East but it was earlier used by Eutelsat as Eutelsat W2M, Eutelsat 48B and Eutelsat 28B. A portion of the spacecraft’s capacity is leased to Afghanistan following an agreement signed in January 2014.

As Eutelsat W2M the satellite suffered some problems with its electrical sub-systems and was originally expected to end full-time service in late 2014.

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