China’s Beidou Navigation Satellite System Expected to Benefit Sudan
An Article Published by Ambassador Ma Xinmin on Khartoum Today
23 September 2020
On July 31, 2020, China officially commissioned its Beidou Navigation Satellite System (BDS) for global users, becoming the third country in the world to build its own global navigation satellite system. Beidou is one of the current four satellite navigation systems operating globally, along with the US’s GPS, Russia’s GLONASS and the European Union’s Galileo networks. As China’s first major space infrastructure that provides public services to the world, the BDS opens up a new chapter for the peaceful use of outer space and the provision of high-quality global services.
The BDS has been independently constructed and developed by China. The Beidou network, a global navigation satellite system independently built and operated by China, is compatible with three other satellite navigation systems in use, and provides all-time, all-weather and high-accuracy positioning, navigation, timing and short message services for global users. So far it is the only global navigation satellite system that supports short message communication. China’s BDS project was formally launched in 1994. In the ensuing 26 years, several generations of research personnel and technicians have been working hard to advance the project, building Beidou-1 and Beidou-2 in 2000 and in 2012 respectively and fully deploying the Beidou-3 network in June 2020 when the last satellite of the whole Beidou satellite family was successfully launched. The BDS comprised of 35 satellites eventually takes shape, which is a good example of the belief that success only comes through hard work. The BDS has a high performance, with positioning accuracy less than five meters globally, velocity measurement accuracy less than 0.2 meter per second, timing accuracy less than 20 nanoseconds, and service availability of over 99 percent.
The BDS has become a powerful impetus to boosting China’s economic and social development and improving people’s living conditions. Extensively applied in various aspects of national economy and people’s life, the BDS currently provides full-scale services in sectors ranging from transportation, public security, disaster relief and mitigation to agriculture, forestry, animal husbandry, fishery and city management. It has been put into use in the country’s core infrastructure related to electricity, finance and communication to render sustained, stable and reliable services in support of China’s economic and social development. The BDS-based navigation services have been adopted by enterprises engaged in e-commerce, manufacturing of smart mobile devices, and positioning, widely seen in mass consumption, sharing economy and people’s livelihood in China. In the past decade the gross output value of China’s satellite navigation and positioning service industries grew at an average annual rate of 20%, reaching 345 billion RMB in 2019, and is expected to hit 400 billion in 2020.
China will share the achievements of its BDS development with the rest of the world. As an improvement on the existing global navigation satellite systems, the BDS provides another option and better guarantee for other countries. Up to now the BDS basic products have been exported to more than 120 countries and regions, with their application benefiting ASEAN, South Asia, Eastern Europe, West Asia and Africa in ascertainment of land rights, precision farming, digital construction and smart port construction. The BDS has been ratified by a number of international organizations including the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), the International Maritime Organization (IMO), COSPAS/SARSAT and the International Mobile Satellite Organization (IMSO), and multiple international standards related to the BDS have been released. After Chinese President Xi Jinping proposed in 2014 the studies on the BDS application in Arab countries, China has cooperated with multiple Arab countries including Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, Iraq and Algeria on the application of the Beidou network.
Sudan is an important strategic partner of China and its people are good friends and brothers of China that are reliable and respectable. As Sudan is now pushing for economic transformation and national modernization, the BDS is in place to serve and support Sudan’s economic and social development in aspects of agriculture, animal husbandry, transportation, disaster prevention and mitigation, resources and energy.
In terms of agriculture and animal husbandry, Sudan is an agrarian and animal-husbandry country, with 65% of its population living in rural areas including two thirds of the population that work in the agriculture and animal husbandry industries. Agriculture and animal husbandry account for one third of the country’s GDP and contribute to 40% of its employment. The BDS-based agricultural machinery operation monitoring platform can realize real-time monitoring of crops, weather, disasters and other circumstances, making “smart farming” possible. As a result, the output of precision farming could be increased by 5% and the agricultural machinery fuel consumption cut by 10%, which means much higher efficiency of agricultural production and lower production costs. Moreover, the BDS underpins “smart livestock farming” by providing precise positioning, real-time navigation and disaster early warning services for herdsmen.
In the aspect of transport, Sudan, a country with vast territory, has a complicated national transport network involving different means of transport. The BDS could be widely leveraged in such fields as monitoring of key transportation processes, monitoring of highway infrastructure safety, and high-precision real-time positioning and dispatch at ports, and provide smart services for the construction, operation, dispatching and maintenance of traffic arteries and throughout the process of emergency response. In this way, it will effectively enhance the monitoring management efficiency and ensure higher safety of road transportation. Statistics show that both the number of major and extremely serious road transportation accidents that occurred in China and the number of dead and missing caused thereby drop by 50% after China has put the BDS into application several years ago.
When it comes to disaster prevention and mitigation, Sudan is a country haunted by flooding all the year round, the same problem suffered by areas in the middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze River in China. The BDS’s prominent features of hydrologic monitoring and weather forecast make it possible to issue high-precision alerts to disaster risks in real time and automatically. This will provide crucial support in drawing up flood control operation plans. BDS’s application in disaster warning and quick report, disaster relief command and dispatch, and rapid emergency communication, can greatly improve the response time and decision-making capability of the disaster emergency response.
In terms of resources and energy, Sudan boasts rich energy and mineral resources on its vast territory. Through the navigation, positioning and short message communication services, the BDS is widely applicable in oil exploration, pipeline monitoring, power dispatching, power grid inspections, and other production and operation activities, and is able to improve markedly the management efficiency and emergency response capabilities in resource and energy projects.
As an Arabian proverb goes, “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” Under the principle that the BDS is developed by China and dedicated to the world, China stands ready to pursue international cooperation with the rest of the world, in a bid to make the BDS more favorable to the construction and development of countries along the Belt and Road route and African and Arab countries including Sudan and to better serve the world and benefit mankind.