By Sarah Townsend
The company says it is on track to launch its third satellite in Q4 2016, says CCO
Abu Dhabi-based satellite communications company Yahsat is targeting new markets in Africa, Asia and the Middle East that have historically been underserved due to political unrest.
Chief commercial officer David Murphy told Arabian Business that, in many parts of the region, national servers have been down for a long time amid ongoing political instability.
In many countries, such as Yemen and Iraq, there is “virtually no connectivity”, presenting new potential opportunities for Yahsat.
“Unfortunately anywhere there is turbulence in the world demand picks up for our services, so we’ve seen huge demand for our services in Iraq and Yemen recently,” he said.
Speaking on the sidelines of a government conference in Abu Dhabi on Monday, Murphy added that the company was pressing ahead with ambitious expansion plans in Africa.
Yahsat is preparing to mobilise a third satellite by the fourth quarter of 2016, which would enable it to serve a further 600 million people with its YahClick broadband service, the company claimed at the time.
Murphy said there remain around 16 markets across Africa where Yahsat has no presence, including Zimbabwe, Congo, Zambia, Senegal and Ivory Coast, and the new satellite will help to boost coverage in these locations, as well as in Brazil – a new market for the company.
However, “regulatory hurdles” in some locations could prevent the company from expanding as quickly as it would like.
YahClick had 34,000 subscribers in early March, the company added.
The African countries of Angola, Nigeria and South Africa have performed particularly well in the past 12 months, said Murphy.
However, he declined to reveal details of the Mubadala-owned company’s current financial state other than to say it is "profitable and revenues are growing”.
The event in Abu Dhabi was to officially launch the UAE Space Agency and unveil a strategy for the new body. The event also included the signing of a memorandum of understanding between Yahsat, the Masdar Institute for Science and Technology and satellite telecoms company Orbital ATK, to establish the Middle East’s first master’s course in space engineering and technologies.
Yahsat chief executive Masood M. Sharif Mahmoud said: “Space is proving to be a major economic driver here in the UAE, and for nations elsewhere. Through the UAE Space Agency, the country has developed a long term strategic plan to create a solid and sustainable foundation for advanced space innovation and exploration – a plan of which we are proud to be part.”