Nigeria Communication Satellite NigComSat-1: What Is In It For Us?

The launch and full deployment of a communication satellite, NIGCOMSAT-1, in Nigeria, is set to revolutionize and consolidate Nigeria’s position as the giant of Africa and also as the technological hub of the continent, an emerging player in global information technology. This is the first communication satellite to be launched in Africa to increase bandwidth available. The satellite was launched on May 14th, 2007 at Xichang satellite launch centre, Sichuan province, China. Its deployment for commercial purposes started on July, 6th 2007 with a life span of 15 years, two other satellites are billed to be launched in 2010. It is therefore pertinent to look at its benefits considering the huge investment being made to actualize this project.

Experts have said that the satellite will provide the backbone needed to form network of businesses in Telecommunication, Broadcasting, Advertising, Broadband usage in Africa, Internet access, Real time monitoring services, Navigation and global positioning systems, E-business, E-government and a digitalize economy.

The average Nigerian is waiting earnestly to see how this will impact on our lives, and many have been asking the question ‘what is in it for us?

Some of the benefits of the communication satellite include the fact that…

It will provide a great opportunity in ICT sector for job creation, job opportunities for engineers, technicians, ICT service providers and others have been put at over 150,000 annually. It will provide reliable, effective and cheaper satellite communication services to subscribers.

The communication satellite will reduce drastically the huge amount of money being spent annually on telephony trunking, data transport services, phone call charges and broadband access. This will in effect bring down the cost of GSM and internet services in Nigeria as a result of availability of cheaper satellite bandwidth.

Internet access will also be provided to the villages and remotest areas. This is one benefit that will change different sectors of the economy when everyone has access to the internet. Rural telephony too will be achieved. The satellite will provide the needed convergence of different networks into one to make for efficiency in the provision of services like email, SMS, webhosting, GPRS control devices, inter-switching between financial institutions, GSM, 3G and even between NITEL phone lines and more modern VOIP telephony services.

Online real time services will be achieved in the area of e-learning, e-commerce; tele-medicine.Government can also be digitalized making for easy access to information about government offices and parastatals (e-government).

The satellite will also be employed in the management of natural resources, like the pipe lines, high resolution imaging can be provided to monitor the urban and rural areas, in fact the satellite has already captured over 2000 images around the country; this will help in crime detection and control. Automatic tracking systems can work well thereby serving security purposes.

Many satellite TV stations and radio stations will spring up, which will make for great demand in local content providers. I also feel that the cost of advertising in these media will be reduced giving the small and medium scale businesses in Nigeria a chance to be heard and seen.

The sale and leasing of active transponders by NigComSat limited (the company that handles the commercialization of the satellite) will earn foreign exchange for the country.

Having outlined some of the benefits, it is worthy to note that we can only fully access them if we tackle some of these problems:

Low ICT awareness, education and usage in the country, dearth of ICT professionals in the country, Lack of technology transfer opportunities, Lack of local content providers, Dearth of tertiary institutions in the country offering courses in ICT especially in Communication satellite technology, space technology etc.

Government policies and regulation of the sector have a big impact on the project. All these and more have made for a general unpreparedness in the domestic front. Let this not be another ‘white elephant project’ or what do you feel?

Written by
Ndukaku Kenneth Omeruo
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