Tanzania's communications with the rest of the world underwent a radical transformation on Thursday (15 November).
Tanzania's communications with the rest of the world underwent a radical transformation on Thursday (15 November). President Julius Nyerere opened the country's first satellite ground station.
SYNOPSIS: The Mwenge earth station is situated in Kijitonyama, nine kilometres (5.5 miles) from the centre of Dar es Salaam. President Nyerere was welcomed to the opening ceremony by the Minister of Communications and Transport Ndugu Mwingira and several other members of the Tanzanian cabinet were present for the inauguration. The station links up with the Intelsat satellites orbiting over the Indian Ocean and will initially provide direct telephone, telex, telegraph and television circuits to Britain, Italy, Japan India and the Seychelles. Eventually the station will be capable of handling telecommunication traffic to most parts of the world, and the significance of this development formed the theme of Mr. Mwangira's speech.
The station was jointly sponsored by the Japanese government, the Nippon Electric Company and the Tanzanian Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications. It cost nine million Tanzanian shillings (three and a third million United States' Dollars) to build. Mwenge is temporarily connected to the International Telephone Exchange in Dar es Salaam by underground cables which will later be replaced by a Microwave link. The five Intelsat satellites can each send out radio beams which cover one third of the globe and the entire system operating in unison can link every part of the earth.
Until the opening of the Mwenge ground station, Tanzania was dependent upon the station in neighbouring Kenya for international telecommunications. Apart from its use in the supply of telephone and television lines, the station also has the potential to provide a wide range of services from sophisticated means of newspaper publishing and medical diagnosis to education and disaster relief.