Spotlight on NGOs: How the MENA region will fuel the growth of the downstream satellite market


With countries like Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates investing heavily in national industry 4.0 space programs, energy and smart cities, there will be great demand and opportunities in the NGO sector, a declared Rami Ibrahim.

The satellite industry accounts for 75% of the space economy, with satellite services and ground equipment being the most profitable segments. Over the past decade, satellite industry revenues were around $ 230 billion; 2020-2030 is expected to exceed $ 300 billion with a growth rate of 23%, not counting commercial low Earth orbit (LEO) services. Satellite service revenues remained the largest segment in the industry, with revenues reaching $ 125 billion, although they had fallen to $ 116 billion in 2020.

The MENA region has a long history of investing in geostationary earth orbit (GEO) services; demand makes it one of the largest markets after North America, focused on TV broadcasting, mobility, in-flight connectivity (IFC), LTE and hybrid networks, government and military. The new Space Non-Geostationary Satellite Orbit (NGSO) will bring the globe to life with hundreds and thousands of satellites for broadband connectivity from LEO and Medium Earth Orbit (MEO). For global coverage, the equation is that three GEO satellites equals six MEO satellites, or hundreds of LEO satellites. NGSO (LEO-MEO) provides higher bandwidth than GEO.

The upstream market for NGSOs is growing rapidly, with high capital investments to accelerate the demand for downstream services with lower operating costs. The CGSB sector will expand opportunities to different verticals in the MENA region with high speed connectivity such as maritime, oil and gas, IFC, 5G, connected devices, video streaming, government and military, as well as direct consumers and consumers. households in rural areas.

Analyze the landscape and identify the demand

Go-to-market strategy: Countries like Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are investing heavily in national industry 4.0 space programs, energy and smart cities, which will create demand and opportunities in the NGSO sector. Tawazunin Abu Dhabi has partnered with Airbus and the National Center for Space Science and Technology (NSSTC) to launch the first small to medium-sized satellite component manufacturing unit and lead AIT. Thus, the United Arab Emirates will be the first country in the Middle East to exploit the region’s opportunities in the upstream NGSO market.

Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 initiative will trigger demand or acceleration across all satellite verticals. Going forward, the Saudi Space Commission (SSC) will help further develop the upstream satcom market by setting new policies and regulations at the local level. This will create more opportunities in the upstream NGO market, with the support of semi-governmental organizations and local operators. Simultaneously, with the emergence of the Egyptian Space Agency and Turkish national programs / initiatives, Nilesat and Turksat are likely to take an interest in the commercial market for NGSOs.

The MENA region is investing heavily in terrestrial, OTT and pay television. According to the NGSO forecast, there will be dedicated high availability of Tbps capacity, which will increase terrestrial bandwidth through NGSO satellites to further support OTT developments.

Orbofleet predicts that by 2022, in the NGSO broadband space, Ku-band capacity will reach up to 4 Tbps to provide capacity services targeting enterprise, mobility and government markets, while other operators Ka-band-focused NGSOs will exceed 40 Tbps by 2026. From 2027, Q / V band will gain momentum commercially. This dynamic progression in the use of different high frequency bands will result in low operating expenses (OPEX), leading to the opening of business gateways for new downstream customers while meeting their needs.

Global opportunities with a key focus on the MENA region

In the short term, OneWeb, SpaceX’s Starlink and upcoming SES mPower satellites will create opportunities that will increase demand for NGSOs, particularly in rural, industrial, mobile and GSM backhaul areas, and among direct consumers with operations. Low cost.

Satellite IoT is a crucial solution for the MENA region. The IoT provides more flexibility and reduces the operational costs of connecting devices and machines in industrial verticals such as agriculture, oil and gas, SCADA, emergency and transportation connectivity. The LEO satellite constellations will also complement 5G terrestrial infrastructure in the Middle East.

The pace of NGSO innovation has encouraged existing LEO operators to develop, build and deliver a LEO network based on VDES technology, a second generation Automatic Identification System (AIS) supporting Maritime and Sea, an application crucial in the maritime market of the MEA region. The operators of ONGSO have created initiatives to enter the MENA region and have conducted surveys of business opportunities in the Middle East to expand their business units.

Africa remains an opportunity for foreign NGSO satellite operators, as local telecommunications operators already have a significant presence in sub-Saharan Africa.

In recent years, the Gulf region and North Africa have expanded the local market by founding national space agencies such as the United Arab Emirates Space Agency, the Saudi Space Commission, the Egyptian Space Agency and the National Space Science Agency in Bahrain. These initiatives will enable small and medium-sized satellite companies to meet their local needs from LEO, such as remote sensing, but will dedicate space and opportunities in satcom and telecom applications for upstream and downstream markets.


With the impact of Covid-19, the world has seen a huge demand for apps like Zoom and Microsoft Teams. Their heavy use during containment has placed enormous pressure on the capacity of terrestrial broadband. Support for this through GEO satellites will be limited in terms of speed and high latency. Pandemics and other such emergencies will accelerate demand through NGSOs to power these hybrid grids with higher capacity and speed.

The MENA region will stimulate not only the local market downstream but also upstream, through continued investments in the space and satellite industry. Regional satellite operators such as Arabsat, E’shailsat, Nilesat and Yahsat will undoubtedly continue to invest in the GEO business, but some of them are also involved in partnerships that will ultimately unlock future opportunities. NGSO.

Rami Ibrahim is CEO of Orbofleet Space Company.

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