Using a small VSAT equipment and dish worth Ksh43,000 ($500) SatADSL, a Belgium firm has partnered with Indigo Telecom in Kenya and Uganda’s Maisha Network promises to enable banks and microfinance institutions to install Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) as well as provide money transfer services.
The firm’s satellite tech will power financial and school broadcasting services in East Africa’s remote areas begining in Kenya and Uganda then later Tanzania and Ethiopia.
“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,” SatADSL’s Business Development Director Michel Dothey 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 therefore most users have turned to mobile money and mobile banking putting pressure on banks to embrace technology or miss out on the rural clientel.
The VSAT equipment will 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.