Thursday, June 5, 2014

Satellites improving lives in rural Africa

A press release from the European Space Agency: An ESA-supported project is showing how satcoms can help farmers, voters and educators in rural Africa. The three elements of the Sway4edu project are helping to run elections, educate teachers and improve radio programming.

Satellite terminals provide Internet connectivity, with solar panels and batteries (where needed), laptops, tablets, a projector with screen, and loudspeakers. Sway4edu is led by Openet Technologies, a small Italian company active in using satcoms for eGovernment services, working with Luxembourg’s SES and supported by ESA’s Advanced Research in Telecommunications Systems programme.

The Rural Radios element is developing a satellite-assisted radio service to support farmers, workers and the population of the Democratic Republic of Congo on food security, rural and farmer subsistence, and climate change. Through the online Openet eLearning platform broadcasters can take courses, developed with the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation, on delivering better radio programmes.

Feedback from broadcasters during pilot tests was highly positive: “Very good initiative to provide this tool for the use of rural radios in the bid for community development,” commented one.

Last September, Openet Technologies was contracted to provide Internet access for three years to 10 rural stations in DR Congo with the Federation de Radio de Proximité, which manages 400 such stations. By the end of this year, the contract could be extended to 100.

In October 2013, the company began providing a year of Internet and multicast connectivity for 26 rural radio stations in Mali. The contract was signed with the  Fondation Hirondelle in Switzerland, which manages a group of 62 stations in Mali – the rest are expected to subscribe to the service by the end of this year. The multicast service is provided via the Astra-4A satellite....

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