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2018: A space odyssey

  • Published at 05:02 pm May 14th, 2018
2018: A space odyssey
We are one step closer to the beyond / BIGSTOCK

The launching of Bangabandhu-1 represents a new frontier for Digital Bangladesh

Today, almost all modern, civilized nations have their own satellites in orbit. 

As a sovereign country in pursuit of sustainable development, Bangladesh needs its own satellite to reduce our dependency on other nations who have already sent satellites into space.

Bangladesh has achieved tremendous successes in various sectors, as of late. In line with such success, our nation has obtained unprecedented technological advancement through the ruling party’s Digital Bangladesh manifesto. With this initiative in mind, Bangladesh is now preparing to send her maiden communications satellite Bangabandhu-1 into orbit.

Our country is set to achieve yet another milestone in terms of technological advancement through this satellite.

This technological breakthrough will provide benefits regarding economic, social, agricultural, communications, and natural disaster management purposes, and is the result of policy-makers finally being able to focus on a project and take the necessary measures to see it through.

The communication system of Bangladesh is set to reach new heights with this development. This satellite network will provide our nation with long-term services, offering high scalability, global availability, reliability, versatility, and great performance. This will also facilitate certain sectors such as telemedicine, distance learning, online research, video conferencing, defense, and disaster management.

It will also improve the direct-to-home services, making people’s access to worldwide television entertainment faster and easier. Remote parts of our country such as haors, coastal areas, and deep-sea zones are also set to gain impressive internet connectivity through this satellite.

The satellite’s advanced communications will bring immense economic gains as well. Currently, Bangladesh annually spends more than $14 million on renting satellite bandwidth from foreign operators. Bangbandhu-1 will save Bangladesh $210m throughout its 15-year span.

Bangabandhu-1 is expected to provide services to other Asian countries such as Nepal, Myanmar, Bhutan, as well as Indonesia, the Philippines, Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan -- given that it is properly set-up, of course. 

Which means that Bangladesh stands to earn approximately $1bn by leasing out the transponders and another $1.5bn by selling other related services.

We all know how Bangladesh suffers from serious natural disasters every year, including floods, cyclones, storm surges, riverbank erosions, earthquakes, intermittent droughts, salinity intrusions,  and tornadoes. The Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS) has revealed that the country has suffered a financial loss of Tk18,425 crore in the last six years due to natural disasters.

Such economic losses leave a lasting impact.

Hence, satellite communications can play an important role in the management of natural disasters by providing important weather information. For example, the Bangabandhu-1 satellite network can improve weather forecasts, situational awareness, damage assessment, and help first-responders tackle situation better due to the shorter time it will take for them to receive information.

This will save many lives in our country, where people die from accidents due to natural disasters on a yearly basis.

Apart from this, satellite communications will promote more efficient use of agricultural land. Today, farmers in many countries around the world are relying on satellite communication systems to get increased crop yields.

Since Bangladesh is an agro-based economy, satellite communications will help increase crop production. It will help our country develop a rice information system, which will allow the use of satellites to monitor crop production and potential crop damage, thereby helping government planners and executives to predict returns more efficiently. 

Satellites can also help assess the impacts of storms on certain agricultural areas, while planners can use the information to allocate funds for agricultural support.

Bangabandhu-1 will certainly play a vital role in all these sectors. However, launching a satellite in space is a remarkable achievement for us nonetheless -- as this is a culmination of sorts of the Digital Bangladesh promise made a decade ago by the government. 

We wish the best of luck to our first ever satellite for its successful set up, rotation, and operation in the orbit. 

Muhammad Mehedi Masud, Assistant Professor, Department of Development Studies, University of Malaya.

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