Belgium firm, SatADSL is set to provide financial and school broadcasting services with internet connectivity to remote areas in Kenya and Uganda using satellite technology.
The Belgian firm has partnered with Indigo Telecom in Kenya and Uganda’s Maisha Network to enable banks with microfinance institutions to install Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) as well as provide money transfer services.
SatADSL’s Business Development Director Michel Dothey said the company will be offering small VSAT equipment with dish that cost about Ksh43,000 ($500) to help commercial banks and money transfer firms to expand branch network in remote places.
“VSAT equipment linked to the satellite will increase financial services penetration by being connected to ATMs in rural areas in Kenya and Uganda. This will be expanded to Tanzania and Ethiopia soon,” he said.
East Africa has limited terrestrial telecommunications coverage outside of urban areas where the population is less dense. Telecommunication links where available may not be as reliable as needed by professional users.
Mobile phone operators are setting pace of providing low-cost banking putting pressure on banks to embrace technology but also be innovative through customer oriented corporate culture and service delivery.
Mr Dothey said a small VSAT equipment can be configured for ATM, corporate networks connectivity, money transfer and virtual private networks applications in areas not served by the national electricity grid.
“VSAT equipment powered by a small solar panel provides real-time ATM and money transfer transactions on real-time basis by running less than 30 watts of electricity. A laptop consumes about 70 watts of power,” he said.
Banks in Ghana, Cameroon and Zambia have used VSAT to deploy ATMs in remote areas. The equipment can be used to avail internet connectivity by creating low cost hot spots with 100 megabits sold for about $ 1.
“The VSAT equipment in a position to offer various options and become a one-stop-shop for customers for services ranging from low-cost transaction based or back-up to unlimited services,” said Mr Dothey.
The equipment is expected provide high quality communications and internet connectivity to corporate offices, bank agencies as well as mining sites in locations where terrestrial services are either are unreliable or not available.