It’s no secret that Nigeria’s technological revolution since the return of democratic rule in 29 May, 1999 has been reflected in space. In addition to Nigeria’s growing economic power and international influence, it has also made some very impressive strides in terms of its space program. This includes the launching of five Satellites into orbit and the development of the NIGCOMSAT-1 Satellite, built in whole by Nigerian engineers in partnership with Surrey, UK.
In 2009, Nigeria hoped to double the number of satellites in Space with two more launches, which would consist of the launch of a much improved version of the NIGCOMSAT family of remote sending satellite.
However, the latter mission was postponed after Nigeria’s multi-million dollar communication satellite began spinning out of control just 18 months after launch. The Chinese built Nigcomsat at a cost to Nigeria of $340 million. It was expected to provide broadband Internet and communications for government agencies.
Nigeria’s opposition party quickly was quick to politicize this embarrassment, describing it as another example of white elephant project of fiscally irresponsible government that was hurriedly executed by former president Olusegun Obasanjo. That failed launch pushed back the launch of a potential NIGCOMSAT-2
Meanwhile, with more satelites in orbit than the rest of the continent combined, Nigeria has in the space of a decade built the largest and most extensive Space program in Africa.
Nigeria burst into league of great Space faring nations when it beat NASA, Russia and the European Space Agency in the bidding process to provide In-Orbit test (IOT) and carrier Spectrum Monitoring (CSM) services for Belintersat-1 Satellite.
Nigeria has made history in the global space technology market by becoming the first country in the Sub-Sahara Africa to manage a foreign satellite, when in 2015 it beat NASA, Russia and European Union In a nutshell the Nigerian Space Agency (NASRDA) would manage Belarus’s Satellite program for 15 years.
This is no easy feat to pull off.. The bid was a keenly contested exercise between Nigeria and other bidders with over 20 years of experience in satellite management. By winning the bid Nigeria thus made history by becoming the first country in the Sub-Sahara Africa to manage a foreign satellite from a European country. The operation commenced on 16 January 2016, the official date for the launch of the Belintersat-1 in Belarus and will last for a period of 15 year.
Barely a decade after the Nigerian Space Agency was created Nigeria had gone from ZERO to become the first African nation to compete at the international stage as a major player in space technology. Incredible!!.
The good stuff doesn’t end there. That same year Nigeria signed a Technical Partnership deal with China Great Industries Corporation (CGWIC), a renowned satellite manufacturing company.
The winning of the bid by Nigeria represents a milestone for the country and a clear manifestation that Nigeria has capacity to developed and provide technical services in the satellite communication industry if the political will is there.
While countries like Ghana are quick to denigrate Nigeria to the outside world to score cheap diplomatic and political score with the Blame Nigeria Syndrome, Nigeria is actually making a difference to the benefit of her sister nation. In line with her natural benevolence Nigeria announced it would be providing broadband services, enterprise solutions, secured communications and solutions among others 35 African countries including all 16 member ECOWAS countries such as Ghana, Cote D’Ivore and Gabon.
President Muhammadu Buhari GCFR spoke with the Nigerian troops in Sambisa as well as the UN special mission in Liberia via multimedia network powered by NigComSat-1R satellite during the 2017 Armed Forces Remembrance day event at the Eagle Square in Abuja recently.
The satellite which was launched in 2011, is a strategic communication infrastructure to improve local content development in both upstream and downstream sectors of ICT. NigComSat-1R is poised to provide excellent and secure connectivity solutions to remote and underserved areas of the country and beyond through its strong regional beams over the African continent.