By Andrew Christian
In seven years, the only communications satellite in Nigeria, NigComSat-1R, will have to be replaced as its lifecycle would have ended. The expiry year for the gizmo was revealed by the management of Nigeria Communications Satellite Limited.
Raji Kokwole, Executive Director of Engineering Services as NigComSat-1R, at an Abuja function, said that the company’s currently exploring the avenues available for it to purchase two more satellite.
According to him, the government has directed the group to look for opportunities in the private sector to avail the funds needed for the construction of the additional satellites.
NigComeSat-1R, which has a 15-year lifespan, was launched into orbit on December 19, 2011, as a substitute for the West African country’s first communication satellite.
Apparently, the first issue developed a power malfunction while still in orbit in November 2008, after which it was deorbited. This particular satellite cost USD 200 Mn in loan provided by the Chinese Government and part-funding by Nigeria’s Federal Government.
The first satellite was developed by the China Great Wall Industry Corporation. In what ex-president Goodluck Jonathan described as the country’s effort to solve global problems with space tech, Nigeria launched lofted two observation satellites into space in August 2011.
Both satellites were built at Surrey Satellite Technology Limited in Guilford, America and launched into orbit on a Russian Dnepr rocket from Yansy town, Russia.
Kolawole said the communications satellite, if properly utilized, will act as a watchdog to check the country’s recurrent kidnappings and terrorism, which have pretty much disturbing as of late.
Just yesterday, Turkish nationals were kidnapped in Kwara state, Western Nigeria, at gunpoint. The victims who are construction workers are currently hoping to be rescued soon. Last week, 10 Turkish sailors, all of whom their fate remain unknown.
According to Kolawole, “The present satellite has about seven years to the end of life. For business continuity, we are collaborating with the private sector to acquire two additional satellites.
The reason the Federal Government declared NigComSat1R as a national priority project is because of the navigation overly on our satellite, which basically is for security purposes, to curb kidnapping, terrorism, and the likes.
Nigeria is reportedly in talks with security agencies in order to use the satellite to curb the incessant kidnapping around the country. Speaking at the FCT Abuja forum, Managing Director of the company, Abimbola Alale, who was represented by Executive Director, Support Services, Alhaji Muhammad Lema, urged the resellers to work hard to break the dominance of the satellite market in the country by foreign satellite operators.
She said, “As operators of the communications’ satellite business, we have taken the hard reality as a task by refocusing our direction towards retooling our equipment for better service delivery.