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Nigeria: Counting gains from launch of satellite systems

Despite its intractable challenges in the power sector and other domestic issues seeking urgent attention, the Nigerian government ventured into satellite systems with high-resolution optical and infrared cameras to provide speedy access to real-time data and geospatial information that would impact on virtually all human development effort.In its determination not to be deterred by local problems, the government took the giant stride in 2003, 2007 and 2011 to launch its satellites from China, Italy and Russia respectively outside the equatorial orbit in order to attain rapid and sustainable socioeconomic development and catch up with other countries that have embraced satellite technology.

Aside advancing telecommunication and Internet highway, Nigerian satellite systems also looked at agriculture production to assist the country to improve food security and also assist in environmental monitoring, such as tracking desertification and even locust swarms

Its first satellite, NIGCOMSAT-1 was launched in 2003 and the second in 2007 and others followed thereafter.

Since the launch, the satellite systems have been providing geographically referenced high-resolution imaging for applications in large-scale mapping, water resources management, precision agricultural, population estimation, health hazard monitoring and disaster mitigation and management among others.

Satellite broadband firm, YahClick, has taken advantage of the systems to connect over 700 schools in Nigeria to the internet in the last two years.

YahClick’s Vice President for Sales in Africa, Mr. Michael Brown, said that the broadband connectivity was in collaboration with the Universal Service Provision Fund (USPF).

Dr. Spencer Onuh, the Director, Centre for Satellite Technology Development (CSTD), one of the National Space Research and Development Agency (NASRDA), stated that “Nigeria do a lot of revisiting of satellites for information gathering in disaster management, security, agricultural issues”.

He said that private-public partnership, space entrepreneurs can be encouraged to build the infrastructure needed to develop space science technology and harness its benefits.

Dr. Matthew Adepoju, President, Geo-information Society of Nigeria (GSN) noted that African countries lagged behind in the first, second and third industrial revolution and that most advanced countries have taken advantage of the polar orbit and that Africa needs to key into satellite technology.

The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has approved and presented  licence for the landing right permit to Avanti for Hylas4 Satellite Space segment.

The Executive Vice Chairman, NCC, Prof. Umar Danbatta, described the land permit as an authorization, which operators require for their satellite to be allowed to beam its signal over the territorial integrity of a country.

He said that Avanti’s high capacity facilities would be encouraged to deploy services via satellite to serve the undeserved and unsaved areas to bridge digital divide.

The National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) is also putting measures in place to deploy satellite technology in capturing citizens’ identity.

Dr. Aliyu Aziz, the Director-General (D-G) of the commission said that the government’s data capturing agencies had not been able to effectively capture citizens identity and that with satellite technology, remote sensing could go a long way for more impact.

The National Space Research and Development Agency (NASRDA) said the satellite system had enabled the military and technology institutions to deploy remote sensing technology.

Meanwhile, Dr. Sadiq Umar, the National Chairman, Nigerian Institute of Space Engineers (NISE), has appealed to the government to provide more earth observation satellites to aid national security and socio-economic development.

He said the available earth observation satellites were not sufficient in providing data for national security and economic development.

The Nigerian Communication Satellite Limited (NIGCOMSAT) and NextTv have resolved to take satellite television to the next level.

Also Galaxy Backbone, government’s information technology firm, established in 2006, has taken the advantage of the satellite systems to provide a common services platform consisting of in-country and offshore VSAT hubs.

It is facilitating e-Government policy that will be achieved in 2020 and as leading enabler of digital inclusion through the provision of pervasive ICT infrastructure and services to the Public Sector, Small and Medium Enterprise, Large Enterprise, Partners Services.

Galaxy backbone has embarked on laying optic fibre across the country with the support of NIGCOMSAT to flood the country with accessible and affordable internet access.

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