In late 2012 Mongolia’s cabinet approved the ‘National Satellite for Communications of Mongolia’ project, which details the implementation of the country’s first satellite. Currently Mongolia pays $2m every year to rent other nations’ satellites so their citizens can connect to TV, radio, and obtain mobile phones. The government argued for the creation of this satellite not only to enhance domestic communications, but also in hopes of transforming Mongolia’s agricultural based economy into a knowledge based economy by 2021.
This plan projects that the ‘satellite will earn some $50m in its lifetime and trends suggest profits in Mongolia’s ICT industry are to rise.’ While this satellite proves to be beneficial for Mongolia’s ICT national policy, the necessity of this plan is called into question. With Mongolia’s latest ICT national policy stating that 50% of the population is not connected to the internet, it is curious as to why the Mongolian government is going to spend $441m on the research, launch, and maintenance of this satellite.
Although they state that this satellite will help jumpstart the economy and promote an e-governance action plan, it seems that with 50% of the country unable to access basic internet, this plan’s success does not seem tangible. As Richard Heeks argued in ‘ICTs and the MDGs’, it appears that Mongolia is pushing the ‘e-development’ agenda. While this satellite has the potential to improve internet and other e-services, furthering Mongolia’s movement towards the MDGs, the plan fails to address accessibility and sustainability. While this satellite seems great on paper and the promised benefits could greatly help Mongolia’s economy, the project does not seem to be the best step for Mongolia’s ICT policy.