Bolivia, Chinese Firm Sign Deal to Build Satellite

LA PAZ – President Evo Morales’ government and Chinese firm Great Wall Industry signed a deal here Thursday for the construction of Bolivia’s first communications satellite.

The accord was signed by the executive director of Bolivia’s ABE space agency, Willy Herbas, and Great Wall CEO Yin Liming in a ceremony attended by Morales and his Cabinet, as well as a delegation of 25 Chinese technicians.

Public Works Minister Walter Delgadillo said the agreement specifying the project’s technical details lends validity to a process begun last July for the construction and launch of the Tupac Katari satellite, named after the leader of an Indian rebellion against the Spanish colony in the 18th century.

Morales, a socialist and Aymara Indian who took office in January 2006, is an admirer of Tupac Katari and the first indigenous president of Indian-majority Bolivia.

He said delegations from both countries have met on six occasions to work out the technical details and noted that Morales traveled to Switzerland in September to make the necessary orbital-slot filings before the International Telecommunications Union.

In the agreement, Bolivia agrees to acquire a DFH-4 model, third-generation, Chinese communications satellite and states that its technical requirements have been met.

The accord states that ABE will oversee the launch of the satellite.

It also notes that the Chinese Space Agency will provide Bolivia with consulting and support in the area of frequency and orbit coordination when it is time to make those arrangements with the ITU.

“The satellite will communicate with (all parts of the) country, from central areas to its far corners. We will establish communication as a human right in the best quality conditions,” Delgadillo said, referring to increased Internet and communications access.

He added that the next step will be the signing of a loan deal with the Chinese bank financing the project and a commercial contract with Great Wall Industry.

The Chinese loan will finance 85 percent of the $300 million project, with the rest of the funding to be provided by the Bolivian government.

For his part, Yin said the agreement will “open a new page” in technical cooperation between Bolivia and China and also help improve the countries’ bilateral relations.

The executive presented Morales with a scale model of the rocket to be used to launch the satellite into orbit, which is to take place within three years.

Morales said that, with this project, South America’s poorest country is making “a significant leap” into a new scientific and technological era, adding that he still intends to have a second satellite built for natural resource prospecting. EFE

Source: EFE

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