€157m loan deal inked to finance Bangabandhu satellite

Bangabandhu satellite
photo: Demos Vrublevski via IMF

Bangladesh today signed a loan agreement of 157.5 million Euro (equivalent to around Tk14 billion) with Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation (HSBC) Limited to finance the country’s first ever satellite “Bangabandhu-I”.

Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) Chairman Dr Shahjahan Mahmood and HSBC Bangladesh Deputy Chief Executive Officer M Mahbub Ur Rahman put pen on the documents at the BTRC headquarters in Dhaka.

State Minister for Posts and Telecommunications Tarana Halim and France Ambassador to Bangladesh Sophie Aubert were present at the signing ceremony.

The telecom regulator earlier on November 11 last year signed an agreement with French firm ThalesAlenia Space, awarding the work order for manufacturing and launching the commercial and broadcast satellite by two years.

The government wants to launch the satellite on December 16 next year, marking the occasion of the 45th anniversary of the country’s victory in the War of Liberation in 1971.

The project would involve an expenditure of around Tk30 billion to be financed from the national exchequer over Tk13 billion and the rest from loans.

The satellite, in exchange, would help save the country around Tk1.1 billion to Tk1.2 billion annually in foreign currency as broadcasting expenditure, according to official estimate.

Bangladesh annually spends around US$14 million on satellite rents for running television channels, telephones and radio connectivity.

“It would be possible to launch the satellite on December 16, 2017,” Tarana Halim told the function. “We’re working phase by phase to attain the goal.”

The BTRC chairman said HSBC is providing the loan at LIBOR (London Interbank Offer Rate) plus 1.51% of interest to be repaid in 20 instalments in 12 years.

He said the financing would cover several components of the satellite such as ground station, insurance and maintenance for three years after launching.

The ThalesAlenia Space will manufacture, launch and maintain the satellite for providing communication and broadcast services.

French Ambassador Sophie Aubert hoped that the work would be completed in time.

Officials said a satellite is sent into space on top of a rocket. To averting possible risks, Bangladesh has decided to keep ready a spare rocket for the launch though would raise the cost slightly.

Bangladesh will be the 54th country when the satellite would be launched into the orbital slot on 119.1 degree east longitude, which (slot) was bought last year from Russian satellite company Intersputnik for US$28 million.

The Bangabandhu satellite will have 40 transponders, which would be able to serve SAARC countries, Indonesia, and the Philippines, as well as countries such as Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. One transponder is equivalent to 36 MHz.

Under the project, two earth stations would be set up at Joydevpur in Gazipur and Betbunia in Rangamati apart from a satellite.

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