21 November 2015
Improving communication between the countries of Latin America is considered an essential element in the development of regional integration.
In an effort to facilitate regional communication and integration, the head of Arsat, Argentina’s state-owned satellite company, held a meeting with ambassadors from throughout Latin America to discuss the construction of the first Latin American satellite.
Matias Bianchi, president of Arsat, recently spoke with the Nodal news outlet to share the company’s efforts to pioneer new methods of communication aimed at promoting regional integration.
“We have to find a way to work together as a region and maximize our efforts. This is not a commercial endeavor but instead one that focuses on integration … The idea is that by joining forces, we have more weight as a region against the interests of the rest of the world,” said Bianchi in an interview published Friday.
Since the arrival of the so-called “pink tide” of progressive governments in Latin America, great efforts have been made to lessen the ties between the region and the United States, promoting integration between the countries of the region instead. These efforts have led to the creation of regional bodies such as the Union of South American Nations and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States.
Progressive governments in the region have also prioritized social investment, including the expansion of communication infrastructure. Both Venezuela and Bolivia have launched communication satellites, however both were build and launched abroad by China.
“In Latin America there is a great need to develop the satellite industry. We have countries with complex geographies and high population densities, where a satellite helps bridge the digital divide in areas that are not easily reached by ground infrastructure,” said Bianchi.
Arsat, Argentina’s state-owned satellite company, was created in 2006 by the late former president of Argentina, Nestor Kirchner, and only employed 50 people. Since then the company has grown to over 500 and has built and launched two of its own satellites.
Arsat is now seeking to cooperate with other countries to continue expanding communications infrastructure. Bianchi said the recent meeting with ambassadors was fruitful and Arsat continues to cultivate relationships with governments throughout the region, in particular with those of Venezuela, Bolivia, and Chile.
“One proposal we made to them is to join in the construction of the next satellite, that they take a portion of the capacity for themselves and through that capacity we would sell them, there would be a technology transfer from us to them, so that each country can then contribute their knowledge from the portion where they have greater capacity,” Bianchi told Nodal.
According to Bianchi, Argentina is one of only 10 countries in the world that can build satellites and the only one in the Southern Hemisphere. Argentina recently approved the Law of the Development of the Satellite Industry, which includes a 20 year development plan and makes support for the industry a state policy.