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Nigeria set to relaunch Communication Satellite 2011

Nigeria is to re-launch its communication satellite NigComSat-1, de-orbited on November 10, 2008 when it developed a technical problem, an official has said.

The China-built NigComSat-1 developed a South Solar Array Drive Assembly anomaly, leading to its de-orbiting.

Director General of the Nigerian Communications Satellite (NIGCOMSAT), Mr. Ahmed Rufai, said yesterday that the satellite would be re-launched in the third quarter of 2011 in China.

According to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), Rufai told the Minister of Science and Technology, Prof. Mohammed Abubakar, who visited the agency, that the manufacturing process of the satellite had reached 60 per cent completion.

Rufai said that efforts were being made to commence the back-up satellite to guarantee customer confidence for continuity.
He also said the agency had deployed a pilot public safety communications network to be commissioned soon to address security and safety issues, adding that “this will be extended nationwide preparatory to the launch of NigComSat-1R”.

He said the benefits would integrate Nigeria into the global telecommunications environment and ensure that telecommunications services were efficient, affordable, reliable and available to the public.

Responding, the minister said for Nigeria to catch up with the global community, it should be thinking of how to design and develop its own indigenous satellite soon, noting that the country had developed enough capacity.

“We have developed the manpower, so the next satellite should be launched in Nigeria,” he said.

Abubakar urged the agency to put in place necessary measures to ensure the development of indigenous satellite so that next time the country would be launching its satellite from Nigeria and not from China or any other country.

“The cumulative benefits of domesticating the production of these research and development products include increased job creation, faster economic growth, enhanced export and GDP, while conserving foreign exchange.

“The fact that the ground station antennae were completely installed by NIGCOMSAT engineers is heartwarming; it proves that we do not require the services of the Chinese or other foreigners to do this for us in our subsequent satellite projects,” he said.

The minister commended the agency for developing prototype electronic voting machines and cards, saying that the machines could be used for National ID, credit and debit cards, Tax ID, health insurance cards and vehicle license registration database, among others.

“I will bring this to the attention of Mr President and the INEC chief for appropriate action.

“With what the young engineers have developed, a biometric-based voters register can be produced before December 2010 by NIGCOMSAT, given the necessary financial support. They have all it takes to do this,” he said.
The minister also said that Nigeria would be launching two earth observation satellites on Oct. 29.