China launches communications satellite NIGCOMSAT-1 for Nigeria

2 Comments » May 13th, 2007 posted by // Categories: Favorite Articles

China on early Monday morning launched a communications satellite for Nigeria, the first of its kind in Africa and the first time a foreign buyer has purchased a Chinese satellite and its launching service

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2 Responses to “China launches communications satellite NIGCOMSAT-1 for Nigeria”

  1. alukome says:

    Gains Of Nigerian Satellite,


    Engineer Ahmed Rufai

    Today, at exactly 5.01pm (Nigerian time), the much-awaited Nigerian Communications Satellite (NIGCOMSAT-1), the first in Africa, will commence the 30 minutes estimated journey to low orbit. The Federal Government projects that the Satellite will enable job outsourcing through the provision of a robust high bandwidth for two-way broadband links between Nigeria and others parts of the world; bridge the digital divide by providing platform for small/medium scale ICT service providers to partake in the global $1.2 Trillion business opportunities; conserve capital flight of over $95 million spent on bandwidth by Nigerian users and over $900 million by African users for telephony trunking and data transport service, among others. EMEKA ANUFORO of the Abuja Bureau spoke to the Managing Director and Chief Executive of the marking outfit for the commercialisation of the satellite, Nigerian Communication Satellite Limited, Engineer Ahmed Rufai, on the economic potentials of the project and what the nation stood to gain from it.

    HOW is the launch activity going to look like?

    Launch of a satellite entails the transportation of the spacecraft from the ground into the geo-stationary orbit, which is about 35,200km away from the ground earth. This is the distance into the space. So, the entire launch activity, or launch campaign involves the integration of the spacecraft of the launch vehicle, which is rocket and after the integration, then the firing of the launcher into space to transport the spacecraft into the entire orbit.

    The transportation of the spacecraft into the designated orbital position of about 42.5 degrees east is what launching is all about. It has to be driven in its transport corridor. If it is on the road, it is like somebody moving from Lagos to Benin, or Lagos to Kaduna. At each port that you are driving to, you have a designated route.
    The same thing obtains in the orbit because you have over 350 satellites belonging to various nations in this particular orbit. So, you need to drive your own satellite to ensure that you get to the orbit you are targeting otherwise, you will go and shoot somebody else off its own position and you have to pay serious collateral damages for that.

    How long is this supposed to take?

    Depending on the speed, it will take close to about 20 to 30 minutes. And we have the launch window of about 55 minutes on the particular day that we are launching.
    So much has been said about the socio-economic viability of the satellite. How soon would the nation begin to witness the effect of the satellite on the economy?
    By our intention, it is supposed to be immediate. Immediate in the sense that we want a situation that we create a digital economy. Digital economy in the sense that every Nigerian will now have affordable access to the information super highway, be it children in the primary school, in the secondary school, in the tertiary institutions. Even individuals: graduate individuals looking for jobs, looking for information; traders, farmers, marketers and small businessmen. We will have a situation where everybody is connected to the information super highway.

    We also intended to deploy 3.5 G, complementary ground infrastructure; wireless! But we have been having problems trying to convince the regulators that we needed to do that. Yes, the private sector has been trying to do something in that direction. But we are also a Limited Liability Company but for now owned by government, however, with the intention of inviting the private sector operators into what we are doing. The key operators are free to come on board to buy 5-10 per cent shares. In fact, at the end of the day, whatever we are doing is an extension of their businesses. So, there is no fear.
    At the same time, we are looking at a situation that if you say 30 million Nigerians are connected, that is just voice. When it comes to data, it is less than two million out of 140 million.
    How many Nigerians have access to the Internet?

    We are looking at these areas whereby data services, Internet services are available in all the nooks and crannies of this country.

    And if we are able bring in, for instance, pipe in Internet trunking from the Internet backbone from Europe into Nigeria and we are able to provide cheap, qualitative services to ISPs (Internet Service Providers), they will in turn be able to provide cheaper Internet subscription to the cyber cafes.

    Then it will translate to the end users such that instead of browsing maybe for a N100, we hope that they should be able to browse at N50 per hour. This will come with better speed. You browse with joy because even within 20 minutes, you will be able to download 2.5 to 10 Mega Byte of files and documents.

    We believe that those in the ICT business will immediately have succour coming from the satellite. The Virtual Private Network Service Providers, those servicing the telecommunications needs of the oil industry, will also have a smile on their faces. The hurdles they go through trying to buy bandwidths from international satellite owners, having to go through NCC to seek approval before they can go to the foreign exchange to bid for dollars, all the troubles of going to the banks for exchange will now be a thing of the past.

    This is because they will now buy with their Naira and by extension the pressure on our foreign exchange transaction will come down because the value of our Naira to dollar is controlled by market forces. When there is pressure on the demand for dollar, the value of the dollar goes up. If we now domicile all these requirements and we are able to sell these commodities that hitherto were sources of foreign exchange drain to the country, then, that is going to have a very positive effective on our economy.

    From the perspective of the foreign exchange, a lot of African countries will be buying bandwidths from us. Now, we are going to be exporting services from non-oil sector. We are not just talking about services; we are talking about technological services to other countries.

    You will be surprised to hear that in China, one satellite-based Communications Company is trying to sign up to buy bandwidths from us. We are almost concluding and I am sure that by the time we launch this satellite, we will sign the contract before I leave Beijing. The last time I went a month ago, it was because of the tight schedule that I couldn’t go to close the deal with them. This time around I am sure that after the launch and before we leave, they will be buying bandwidths from us. They are deploying telecommunications solutions in Cameroun.

    The same thing goes for some companies from Hong Kong. The biggest and the largest telecoms service providers in Hong Kong and parts of China are also interested having some contacts in Rwanda. They are also trying to buy bandwidths from us. The Rwandan government is also coming immediately after the launch to conclude their requirements.

    This is apart from the national requirements, which we feel will be tremendous. It will be very easy for NTA, for instance, to carry Nigerian traffic to all over Africa such as you watch SABA. We will be able to do that. So, NTA live in the entire African continent, and you know Nigerians are all over the place. And once you are outside the country, you want to know what is happening at home.

    So, with that capacity of our reach out; the transmission reach out; the transmission medium to the continent and the entire world, we will be able tell our stories. The whole world will be able to tell much more about us; the image of Nigeria and Nigerians will gradually change from the way we are packaged now as fraudsters. They will be able to see the other side of Nigeria.

    In the print media, it will be very easy for you, like The Guardian, for instance, to be read every where the same day. It will be very easy because all you need now is to have a DPM or even send your files out to the printers because everybody will now have a robust broadband link. You can put a 20 Mega Byte of document for production. By 1am or 2pm, once the editorial suite finishes the production for the next day, within two minutes, the whole thing is uploaded and sent to the printers all over the country. You just need a contact with them and they roll out. So, if somebody is in Calabar, by 6am the papers are coming out of the print. It’s the same thing in Sokoto and Maiduguri. It is no longer an issue of The Guardian news today becoming stale for it to be read tomorrow in other parts of the country just because of logistics problem.

    The extended effect of that is that you spend less money transporting all these printed materials, less money on fuel, less money on medical, then the overall profitability for the print media. Instead of your cost gradually going up because of cost of logistics, cost of operation, you will save a lot of money

    Then the issue of on-line! Banks will be able to deploy very robust network and do real on-line banking. It will be very easy to now connect government institutions: all the high courts in the states, all the Accountant-Generals’ offices in the states and local governments; our embassies all over the places. So, it is whole possibilities in the ICT world. But it is going to come with the successful launch of the satellite.

    Then we have issues that border on outsourcing. We have a large pool of intellectual human capacity skill in Nigeria that we will be able to outsource because we will be able to do services in the area of tele- medicine, in the area of tele-education, in the area of bringing outsourcing services to other parts of the world.

    These are benefits that we will be able to bring to bring to the country both at the minute community level and at the corporate level of Nigeria as an entity.

    This satellite has a 15-year lifespan? What are your strategies for the future?

    Our target is that by 2010, we will launch two additional satellites. In fact, by the next two years, we hope to launch two more communication satellites: one facing America and one facing the Asia. By our calculation, in 2010, we should have a global coverage as part of our short-term strategic plan.

    So, we are thinking far, far beyond that, because we loaned $200 million as part of our venture financing from the contractors. We hope to pay back from the revenue stream of the satellite. In addition to that, once we are able to prove the capacity to pay back, government would be investing some.
    We are already calling private investors to come and take shares in the company. We are hoping that by the in-flow, we should be able to start another mission by early 2008 and between then till 2010, we should be able to launch another. We are starting two missions simultaneously because we have seen the requirements. We want to get there now because we have the capacity; we have the rudiments.

    I can tell you that internally, we can design our own satellite 100 per cent without input from anybody. Once we design, again the aggregate cost will crash because this aspect of the project can cost over $20 million. We can design and just give to people to fabricate for us. The Space Agency, the mother agency, the National Space Research and Development Agency is setting the pace and is also looking beyond that.

    I can tell you that eight years from now, we will build the satellite from here in Nigeria and once we are able to do that; the cost to us will also crash.

    Apart from building for ourselves to satisfy national requirement, we will be building for other African countries. For example, I know that from the Nigerian example, Libya is trying to look this way; South Africa is thinking fast of launching a satellite. Even the United Arab Emirates! Once we build the capability, we try the small ones, one or two experimental; they will patronise us.

    It is a potential revenue earner for the country and the good thing also is that the technology in the satellite industry can be established in all the micro electronics and mechanical requirement in the country. We can impact it. We can set up industries that base purely in high tech engineering because the knowledge is the same; the calling is the same.

    Our trained engineers can be used in different applications now. We have highly skilled engineers, who can be used to solve our problems in the petroleum industry, the control panels, that hitherto when you get into it you think that it is witches and wizards working there.

    Our engineers will be able to tackle all that. If it is hardware, they will just remove and replace. If it is a software problem, they can correct it and put the plant back into operations. These were things that hitherto, people were flown from outside and they come here, spend one week before they even settle down to work.
    It would help to conserve foreign exchange in that direction apart from utilising the capability and capacity because when you do it once, the turn-around time can be heavily reduced. It might take you a week to get an expert down here in Nigeria. But if it is somebody down here in Abuja and you need him in Port Harcourt, he can take the next flight to Port Harcourt, solve the problem immediately and fly back.

    And some of the simple things in this issue of computer motherboards are things that we will be rolling out very soon. Before the end of 2007, and early 2008, I can tell you that we will make all our motherboards here; we will make all the chips here.

    We are just waiting to put the satellite there, get the machines and roll these things out. And that is where the real value addition is. The real value addition is more than 3,000 per cent moving from components to the motherboards. We can buy these components at just about $100. At the end of the day, when they enter the motherboard, they become $2,000 dollars. The engineering value addition is starting from these fundamentals and we have got the technical capability and the know-how to be able to produce all these chips, which is going to have a lot of impact in our micro-electronics industry.

    In the mechanical aspect, you know, of course, we also have the capability to be able to produce, churn out most of our vehicles. The production of the vehicle bodies and others are just simple tactics. In that area, too, we are going to impact heavily from our mechanical engineers that trained on the structures and the platform of the satellite.

    You know that we use a lot of antennas and antennas are just easy to produce. These are some of the extended spill offs that the programme is going to bring to bear on the entire economy of this great country.

  2. Otukoya Omotayo says:

    Dear Sir,RTD Justice Dabiri, is my uncle and he is trying to reach you Sir.My numbers are 08026271965,017659526.
    Otukoya Omotayo.

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