European satellite companies pin hope on Africa market

Eutelsat CommunicationsEutelsat Communications has eight satellites covering Africa and has plans to have 13 by 2016. (Image source: Eutelsat Communications)Africa has been attracting a lot of investment from European satellite companies, which have plans to tap the current rise in demand for digital television across the continent

According to a Reuters report, the world’s poorest continent has shown the potential to emerge as a major market for broadcasters if significant infrastructure issues were addressed.

The report revealed that Africa was expected to have 85mn households with televisions by 2016, compared with 182mn in western Europe.

Luxembourg-based satellite firm, SES general manager, Ibrahima Guimba-Saidou, said, “We all want to enjoy life to some extent and as we see disposable income becoming more available, we start to become more demanding. The situation with the growing digital television demand in Africa is similar.

“SES has already launched three Africa-focused satellites this year.”

French firm Eutelsat Communications deputy chief commercial officer Francesco Cataldo said the company has eight satellites covering Africa and has plans to have 13 by 2016.

The Reuters report also said that countries around the globe were expected to switch to digital television by 2015 and in Africa only South Africa, Tunisia, Morocco and Algeria will be able to meet the deadline.

Informa Telecoms & Media head of broadband and TV research, Rob Gallagher, said, “A lot of African nations have underestimated the challenges that this involves.

“The transition to digital television will require consumers to buy a special set-top box decoder that can cost between US$50 and US$70.”

The European companies were still betting that more middle-class Africans will pay that to keep tuning in, added the report.

Cataldo said, “We are expecting that digital television is going to grow about 36 per cent from now to 2015.”  

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