Africans Urged to Collaborate on Satellite Technology to Address Space Security, Local Content Development 

technology - November 17, 2022

The Managing Director, Nigerian Communications Satellite Limited (NIGCOMSAT), Dr. Abimbola Alale, has stressed the need for African countries to collaborate on satellite technology, in order to form the required synergy needed to provide territorial space security for the African continent.

According to her, international wars have moved from the ground borders to the territorial space, with the support of satellite technology, adding that African countries, which already have over 48 satellites in space, must collaborate to grow local content in satellite technology and to protect the African territorial space.

Alale made the call, while delivering a keynote speech at the ongoing satellite technology training programme on Satellite Communications for professionals, policy makers, regulators and operators, organised by Tetconsult in Lagos.

Alale who spoke on the topic: “NigComSat-From Feasibility to Implementation-Challenges and Opportunities,” during the opening session of the one week training programme for selected satellite technology professionals from Ghana and Nigeria, said: “Currently there are 13 African countries that have launched 48 satellites in space, and in 2025, it is projected that the number of African countries that will launch satellites will increase to 33. The allocation for space budget annually is over $500 million, which shows that space economy in Africa is improving and Africa cannot be ignored in satellite technology. So investment in satellite should not be seen as a wasted investment.

“African countries can collaborate and use its capacity to serve Africans better in the area of satellite technology, and develop its local content in satellite technology. Africans cannot continue to be consumers of technologies developed from other continents of the world. Africans can come together to develop its space security because international wars have moved into space. African countries need to put together its resources and work together for a common regional interest.”

Giving the narrative of satellite technology in Nigeria, driven by NIGCOMSAT, Alale said in 2007, NigComSat1, which was Nigeria’s first satellite, was launched into space and 18 months after its launch, it was adversely affected by solar storm, and the satellite was de-orbited in 2008.

“Since NigComSat1 had insurance, Nigeria was able to use the insurance to demand for a replacement from the Chinese company that built the first satellite and that was how NigComSat1-R was re-launched in 2011 and it is still operational and that is what NIGCOMSAT uses to offer communication services to its customers,” Alale said.

According to her, NIGCOMSAT is currently working towards getting another satellite launched into space by next year, because NigComSat1-R is getting close to the end of its life span of 15 years. “We opened the bidding process and we have received applications from foreign satellite companies and our consultant is screening those applications in preparation for the bidding proceess, while waiting for the approval of the Federal Executive Council (FEC),” Alale said.

Giving an overview of Satellite Communications, Policy, Regulations and Operations, the Chief Executive Officer of TetConsult, and former Secretary General of Commonwealth Telecommunications Organisation, Shola Taylor, said: “The learning and development programme organised by TetConsult is to upscale the professionals who are working in the satellite industry, which cuts across regulators, managers and users of satellite services. The training also offers them the opportunity to learn new development and acquire new knowledge in satellite technology.”

The training, which cuts across satellite technology professionals from African countries, had attendees from National Communications Authority of Ghana, as well as professionals from the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) and the Nigerian Communications Satellite Limited (NIGCOMSAT).

The issues of spectrum management and allocation were discussed as well as satellite related issues.

Given the evolution of satellite communications technology, Taylor, one of the resource persons at the training, listed the three types of satellite technology to include: Geostationary Earth Orbit (GEO), Medium Earth Orbit (MEO) and Low Earth Orbit (LEO), and explained how countries could maximise the technologies to promote local content in satellite technology. The Principal Manager, Legal and Regulatory Services Department of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Dr. Mohammed Suleh-Yusuf, who spoke on commercial satellite operations guidelines, told the audience about the guidelines in providing commercial satellite services to third parties, as contained in the Nigerian Communications Act 2003, adding that the guidelines seek to among other things, to ensure a well developed and organised satellite communications market in Nigeria with appropriate legal framework that meets international best practice.

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