Egypt to send first communications satellite into orbit on Friday

Satellite to supplement telecommunications system and attract investment

epa06475813 A handout photo made available by the European Space Agency (ESA) and French Centre National d'Etudes Spatiales (CNES) on 26 January 2018 shows an Ariane-5 rocket, carrying the 'SES-14 and 'Al Yah 3' television and communication satellites and the NASA 'Gold' probe, taking off from its launch pad in Kourou, French Guiana, 25 January 2018. Media reports state that there has been technical problems shortly after the launch when the ground control lost contact with the rocket's upper stage. An 'Arianespace' operator spokesperson confirmed the contact-loss but was cited as saying that all missions were going on after the payload satellites had been detected in their orbit positions.  EPA/P. PIRON / HANDOUT  HANDOUT EDITORIAL USE ONLY/NO SALES
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Egypt will launch its first communications satellite into orbit on Friday to improve its communications and internet services and attract investment.

Tiba-1 is due to be launched just after 11pm local time on one of Europe's Arianespace rockets from a space centre in French Guiana, officials said.

It is named after Thebes, or Tiba in Arabic, an ancient Egyptian capital whose ruins are in the modern southern city of Luxor.

The 5.6-tonne satellite, made by Airbus and Thales Alenia Space, will remain in orbit for at least 15 years to provide "every inch" of Egypt with call and internet services, government officials said.

"The satellite will provide Egypt with a parallel communications network alongside the current land network and a strong telecommunications infrastructure," Mohamed Elkoosy, executive director of the Egyptian Space Agency, told Reuters.

"The growth of the economy depends on a strong communications network."

The Egyptian Space Agency will run the satellite from a control centre in Cairo.

Egyptian Communications Minister Amr Talaat said the satellite "represents a significant qualitative leap in the field of communications and information technology".

Tiba-1's coverage area includes some neighbouring Arab and African countries, and Egypt may sell them satellite services in future.