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UAE’s Yahsat looks to expand, Africa and Latin America areas for growth

Masood Mahmood, Chief Executive Officer of Yahsat. Photograph courtesy of The National.
Masood Mahmood, Chief Executive Officer of Yahsat. Photograph courtesy of The National.

After several years of slow growth and low revenues, the Chief Executive Officer of Yahsat, Masood Mahmood, believes that a recovery is on the way in the commercial satellite communications market.

“Overall the industry has been depressed over the last two years 2015, 2016, What we are seeing in emerging markets such as Africa [is that] we are near the bottom when it comes to demand [for] satellite services, IP and broadband, and definitely the worst is sort of behind us,” said Mr. Mahmood.

“When it comes to broadcast, we have our niche markets, which is the eastern markets,” added Mr Mahmood. “We have seen some pressure due to the global economic conditions and also due to depressed oil prices, where oil-dependent economies in the region and budgets in the region are depressed, but definitely we have started to see some recovery.”

Mr. Mahmood highlighted Yahsat’s growing opportunities in Africa and Brazil, pointing out that demand for satellite broadband is on the rise in these markets.

Yahsat is a subsidiary of Abu Dhabi-based Mubadala Development Company investment firm, and offers satellite communications, broadcast, and broadband services to commercial and government clients on two geostationary satellites, Yahsat-1A and Yahsat-1B, launched in 2011 and 2012 respectively. A third satellite that has cost U.S.$350 million, Al Yah-3, is expected to be launched in 2017 and will enable Yahsat and its subsidiary, YahClick, to provide broadband services to 600 million people in 19 countries in Africa and Latin America.

Furthermore, Mr. Mahmood has announced that Yahsat aims to procure four additional satellites by 2020 in order to capitalise on the in-flight connectivity market, as well as to expand its general commercial satellite communications market share. The additional satellites will also be used to serve Yahsat’s government clients, to presumably include the UAE government.

One aim for Yahsat, said Mr. Mahmood, is for it to become a leading global provider of satellite communications solutions, rivaling companies such as Intelsat and SES.

In turn, such ambitions serve the wider geopolitical and geoeconomic aims of the UAE government to diversify the Emirati economy away from its traditional dependency on oil revenues.

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