China will construct a $300 million communications satellite in Bolivia, President Evo Morales announced Thursday.
Morales discussed future plans for cooperation with his Chinese counterpart, Hu Jintao, in New York during the annual United Nations General Assembly session. The two leaders’ discussion comes a week after the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), a UN agency, pledged to assist Bolivia with orbital positions and frequency bands.
The project could be financed with Bolivia’s own resources, Morales told AFP Thursday, adding that securing access to preferential credit from a country like China would help his country. He anticipates the satellite’s launch into orbit within three years. Morales also explained that a satellite would greatly benefit the country by connecting poor Bolivians with the modern world through improved Internet access. This remains a challenge in Bolivia where ITU reports that only 10 out of every 100 people are Internet users—far below Chile, 32 per 100, and Venezuela, 25 per 100.
In 2008, Chinese scientists built and launched the Venezuelan satellite, Simon Bolivar (ABC). For President Hugo Chávez, a goal of that satellite is to secure technological independence from the West.