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Danish satellite operator kicks off maritime AIS project in West Africa

Danish satellite operator Sternula recently signed a partnership agreement with the maritime authority in Ghana to strengthen maritime navigation and safety in West Africa. The project has now officially kicked off with the goal to catalyse future distribution of next generation AIS technology.

As part of the project Sternula provides next-generation Automatic Identification System (AIS 2.0), also referred to as VHF Data Exchange System (VDES) – a technology that eases communication between vessels and authorities on land. The ambition of the project is not only to strengthen the maritime sector of Ghana, but also to have a model for future implementation of satellite-based AIS 2.0 in other areas.

“We are very pleased to finally initiate the partnership. Partly because the maritime industry in West Africa possesses an enormous potential for utilisation of satellite based e-navigation technology due to the large amount of sea-based trade in the region. But also, because we now will be at the forefront of developing AIS 2.0-based services, which will potentially play an important role in maritime digitalisation on a global scale,” said CEO in Sternula, Lars Moltsen.  

“First and foremost, we wish to add value to the Ghanian authorities’ ambitious plans for the region. Furthermore, it is our hope that the project works as a catalyst for similar projects. Therefore, we are happy to realise that our visit to Ghana has already resulted in new partnerships between representatives attending the open workshop. Among other positives things, South Korea has shown great interest in working alongside Danish companies and authorities,” Moltsen added.

The partnership between Sternula and Ghana Maritime Authority is a result of many years of collaboration between Danish and Ghanian authorities. The current strategic partnership was initiated in 2015 with the ambition to strengthen the Ghana’s maritime sector through development of new technologies – which is where AIS 2.0 play a crucial role.

“As the name indicates, AIS 2.0 is the next generation of the current AIS infrastructure which is used for position tracking by more than 200,000 vessels. Our innovative satellite network communicates with vessels via a standard VHF antenna, which has paved the way for a new connectivity solution which is affordable to anyone. Even small Ghanian fishing vessels located far from shore will be visible and contactable. For authorities, this will mean cost savings on otherwise expensive coastal radio stations that often have insufficient coverage,” said Moltsen. 

Sternula’s AIS 2.0 infrastructure will be globally available from 2023 after the first of 60 satellites is launched next year.

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