Indian experts to visit Maldives for satellite study

A team of Indian experts will be visiting the Maldives to study how India can help to launch and operate the nation’s first communications satellite, reports local media.

Minister of Defence Colonel (Retired) Mohamed Nazim told local media that during his visit to India earlier this month the country expressed interest in the project.

“The team will come to find out how we want to operate it and carry out a study. They have expressed interest to assist us in the project,” Nazim said.

The Indian Space Research Organisation (IRSO) did not initially submit a proposal, considering the project “not viable” given China’s interest and presence in the Indian Ocean Region. They later requested the Indian Ministry of External Affairs to partly subsidise the project, Indian media reported earlier this month.

Indian security agencies are concerned about increased Chinese participation in neighboring countries’ communication satellite projects, according to various Indian media outlets.

Nazim stressed that India’s interest would “have no bearing” on the companies that previously submitted proposals, however India’s offer was “different” compared to the other proposal submissions.

“We will know how we want to proceed after India does its study,” Nazim said.

He added that the Maldives’ Cabinet will decide which company to awarded the project, according to local media.

The establishment and operation of a communications satellite would provide local TV stations an opportunity to use the technology, as well as benefit the Maldivian economy, said Nazim.

The Communications Authority of Maldives (CAM) Chief Executive Officer Ilyas Ahmed has previously denied receiving an official proposal from India, however a proposal from the Indian government “must be considered”.

Companies from China, UK, Netherlands, Cyprus, Luxembourg and Thailand had “expressed interest” prior to the proposal submission deadline, which the CAM extended from January 31, 2013 to February 28, 2013 after interested parties expressed difficulties because the previous time period for submission was too short.