Cablegate: Indonesia Champions Asian-African Satellite
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R 020930Z JAN 08
FM AMEMBASSY JAKARTA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 7535
INFO RUEHZO/AFRICAN UNION COLLECTIVE
RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC
RUCHNVM/NASA JSC HOUSTON TX
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 JAKARTA 000007
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: TSPA ECPS TPHY PINR ECON ID
SUBJECT: INDONESIA CHAMPIONS ASIAN-AFRICAN SATELLITE
1. (U) SUMMARY: On November 26 - 27, Jakarta hosted the New
Asian-African Strategic Partnership (NAASP) Workshop on
Satellite Technology and Its Applications. Experts,
representatives and observers from eleven nations attended
the conference to discuss potential areas of cooperation. The
conference produced three-pages of recommendations for NAASP
member states, including discussion of a roadmap to support
the launch of an Afro-Asian satellite by 2017. END SUMMARY.
Why Satellites? NAASP Background and Satellite Interest
2. (U) The NAASP was established during the Asia-Africa
Summit in Jakarta in April, 2005 to focus on three broad
areas of regional partnership: political solidarity, economic
cooperation, and cultural relations with an overall emphasis
on practical cooperation. The NAASP includes 89 countries
from across the two continents. During the Durban
Conference in September, 2006, members identified cooperation
in satellite communication as a primary initiative.
3. (U) Muhammad Nuh, Indonesia's Minister of Communication
and Information Technology opened the conference, emphasizing
satellite cooperation is one of the most important
implementations of the New Asian-African Strategic
Partnership. Minister Nuh explained that Indonesia was the
first developing country to acquire its own domestic
satellite system (PALAPA in 1976) noting, "We had a strong
belief that the satellite system is just the right
communication technology to unite our archipelagic country
consisting of more than 17,000 islands and where no
terrestrial means could ever reach in a relatively short time
and be affordable to our country."
4. (U) Developing satellite technology is a priority for
NAASP countries for the following reasons:
-- Presents new opportunities for economic and social
-- Promotes education by making distance-learning feasible.
-- Provides advances in science and medicine by allowing
greater cooperation through telecommunications.
-- Enhances the capabilities of governments to deliver social
-- Establishes decision support systems for disaster
management, agriculture, security,and environmental
-- Presents turnkey solutions for communications in areas
that are remote or lack the necessary infrastructure.
Sky of Diamonds, but Asia Can Do More
5. (SBU) Conference attendees discussed both individual and
bilateral achievements but only briefly focused on broader,
multi-lateral perspectives. Indonesian National Institute of
Aeronautics and Space Chairman Adi Sadewo stated that member
states should share both benefits and costs of these
programs. South African Director of Space Application and
Satellite Communication Elliot Sibeko emphasized that the
satellite market was a lucrative industry, stating that South
Africa was already paying millions to foreign companies to
provide telecommunications services and that a country could
potentially profit from developing its own system.
6. (U) Dr. Sayed Mostafa Safavi Homami of the Iran Space
Agency called for more regional participation from Asia when
he noted, "This program should be done on a broader scale.
Africa has demonstrated its willingness, but Asia should do
more." He explained that the wealthier Asian countries
should be willing to provide resources and expertise for the
region as a whole.
7. (U) The conference produced a three-page document of
recommendations for NAASP member states. Recommendations
included forming networks of expertise or "centers of
excellence" where advanced countries would share expertise
with other developing nations. Delegates agreed to set up a
joint task force in order to formulate "a roadmap" to support
the launch of an Afro-Asian Satellite by 2017.
The Cart Before the Horse?
8. (SBU) COMMENT: Delegates spent two days discussing
satellite technology, but didn't come up with many concrete
recommendations. Although each delegation seemed keenly
aware of how satellite technology benefits its own country,
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overall, the conference presented few cogent points regarding
the benefits of satellite cooperation across the region.
Delegates did not discuss reverse-engineering currently
orbiting satellites for these programs nor did they discuss
the need to develop a common launch system in order to place
several satellites or an entire constellation in orbit. In
short, the question must be asked, "How will they get them up
there?" The conference was an important first step towards
satellite cooperation, but failed to provide anything more
substantial than stating broad, common goals.