Home >> News: June 21st, 2013 >> Story
Satnews Daily
June 21st, 2013

European Space Agency (ESA), Newtec + SES ASTRA ... Africa Banks On SATCOM...

Financial services in Africa via satellite mean that people can transfer and withdraw money between villages. Pictured is a microfinance office in Cameroon.
[SatNews] Satellites are making it possible to transfer money between remote locations in sub-Saharan African countries that are otherwise unconnected to the outside world.

An ESA project looking at ways to use satellites for services in developing nations where land networks are simply impossible or non-existent gave rise to the Agency’s SatFinAfrica pilot project in 2011. The project was so successful that a company called SatADSL was established in Belgium early last year to provide SATCOM for financial services to Africa. Microfinance offices in different villages, linked via satellite, allow people to transfer or withdraw money with ease. The SATCOM service is sold via local African distributors who resell it to the microfinance offices on behalf of SatADSL.

Financial services via satellite in Africa mean that people can withdraw money from SatADSL cash machines at any time, even in remote and otherwise unconnected places. Pictured is a SATADSL unit in Ghana.
Currently, SatADSL serves more than 100 offices and the number is growing. Each branch has its own satellite terminal. SatADSL has just received 1 million euros from a leading Belgian private equity investor to support this growth, with the aim of connecting thousands of branch offices of microfinance companies in sub-Saharan Africa via satellite.

Other services offered by SatADSL include cash machines to withdraw money at any time, even in remote and otherwise unconnected places. The machines operate in the same way as they do in Europe, only in Africa, a satellite terminal sits on the roof. For those withdrawing cash, the procedure is no different. SATCOM also provides the same level of security as terrestrial networks.

SatFinAfrica uses Sat3Play satellite technology developed by Newtec in Belgium, with assistance from ESA’s Advanced Research in Telecommunications Systems, or ARTES, program. The satellite link is provided by SES Astra in Luxembourg using SES Broadband.