Access to satellite communications as a key for CB: a reference model looking for affordable costs

17 November 2009 - A Workshop on Access in Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt


The Millennium Development Goals, together with the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) have paved the way to a number of Capacity Building (CB) projects related to ICT in developing countries. Satcom technology and knowledge can contribute to achieving education worldwide, especially in area or regions that have no or a bad infrastructure, as stated in Geneva 2003 WSIS Plan of Action C2: “Governments should take action, in the framework of national development policies, in order to [...] encourage the use of unused wireless capacity, including satellite [...] to provide access in remote areas, especially in developing countries with economies in transition, and to improve low-cost connectivity in developing countries”. 
In 2007, the European Space Agency (ESA) issued an Invitation to Tender in the frame of the Advanced Research on Telecommunications Systems Programme (ARTES Element 1) for a study activity with the underlying goal to identify how to federate and catalyse a major line of actions to be undertaken with the participation of 3rd party’s institutions in line with the action plan proposed by UN. A consortium led by TNO, supported by Avanti Communication and two NGOs (IICD and ActNow Alliance) won the study contract with the project Capacity Building through ICT (CBICT). Aim of CBICT is the definition and validation of a reference model for CB projects using satellite communications. 
The model definition started in March 2008 with identification of sectors in the developing countries where capacity building projects through ICT might have the most added value. Based on this analysis, existing CB projects have been studied and their lessons-learned gathered, taking into account both technical issues and human and organisational aspects. These inputs have been bundled with the experience of members of the consortium to establish successfully sustainable CB projects, to produce a first iteration of a reference model. 
This model, a structured set of guidelines, has been applied to two capacity building projects in SSA, led by the two NGOs in the consortium, in conjunction with ESA - who provided free satcom access for 2009 - and run by local partners. The two projects are respectively in Mali and in Cote d'Ivoire. Local project teams, together with their stakeholders, have used the model, providing their observations on its usability and effectiveness. 
The model validation phase has been almost completed and some of the main results will be shared and discussed with people attending the workshop.
During the study it became clear that there is a lack of proper business model(s) with a mismatch between Civil Society requirements and corporate satellite provisioning in developing countries.
Satcom providers operating in SSA are very expensive, from the other hand, local institutions and NGOs require broadband access to perform capacity building activities like telemedicine, distant learning, media production, etc.
This problem could be potentially solved whith intelligent demand aggregation and management. The idea would be to arrange and organise satellite capacity across a group of different users (NGOs, schools, hospitals, internet cafés, farmers, etc.) in developing SSA countries where no terrestrial network is available. This would require the identification of entities willing and able to fulfil the role of Satcom provider for shared usage, including the regulatory aspects of it. 
A network of different organizations might share a dedicated satcom connection and the related costs. Satcom providers might setup a new service offering, capable to spread the service through different organizations and managing the contracted time-plan. Governments might encourage such initiatives, with appropriate regulations and inter-regional or international agreements. 
Aim of the workshop would be to discuss and evaluate solutions through the collaboration of governments, private sector and civil society.


1) Dr Tai Kei Bernard, Pedyatrist, Chief Doctor at Man Regional Hospital, President of ACIM# Association Culturelle Informatique et médical (ACIM)# Man, Cote d'Ivoire, Africa -

2) Prof. Martin Nkafu Nkemnkia PhD in: Philosophy, S. Teology;
University Professor, Member of WCC# World Conference of Churches (WCC).#; President of LATS# Lebialem Association for Twining of Schools (LATS) between Europe and Africa, Cameroon local NGO.# Fontem, Cameroon, Africa -

3) Jenny De Boer - MSc in Industrial Design Engineering; Consultant at TNO# Nederlandse Organisatie Voor Toegepast-Natuurwetenschappelijk Onderzoek (Netherlands Organization for Applied Scientific Research TNO).# Delft, The Netherlands, Europe -

4) Marina Russo Degree in: Mathematics, Social Sciences; Consultant at ActNow Alliance Rome, Italy, Europe -