Understanding the Key Players in Nigeria’s Space Industry – NIGCOMSAT and NASRDA

No Comments » January 5th, 2013 posted by // Categories: Science & Technology





NIGCOMSAT  Nigerian Communications Satellite Limited – see http://www.nigcomsat.com

NASRDA National Space Research and Development Agency – http://www.nasrda.gov.ng/


1. VISION “…To be the leading Communications Satellite operator and service provider in Africa.” To build indigenous competence in developing, designing and building appropriate hardware and software in space technology as an essential tool for its socio-economic development and enhancement of the quality of life of Nigerian people. NIGCOMSAT Ltd is principally a satellite operator and service provider. The vision of the company is synonymous with the intent of the Federal Government as captured within the Federal Executive Council Conclusions of the 10th of November 2003, that is, to provide a commercial vehicle to implement and sustain the NIGCOMSAT-1 project.NASRDA is a space research agency that is focused on the development of indigenous capacity in the area of space technology. In this regard, the core functions of the agency are research and development.
2. MISSION “To manage and exploit the commercial viability of Nigerian Communications Satellites for the socio-economic benefit of the nation.” The Agency shall gear its organization and activities towards the implementation of the National Space Research and Development Programme, which shall be directed towards the goal of self reliant use of space technology for national development. The mission of NIGCOMSAT Ltd firmly establishes that the company is commercially oriented, and is poised to exploit the functionality of the communications satellite enterprise for the socio-economic benefit of the nation. In practical terms this translates to the provision of services ranging from broadcasting, internet services and various telecommunications services.The mission of NASRDA on the other hand is to conduct research and developmental
3. ACTIVITIES Commercialization of satellite resources through the procurement, management and operations of communications satellites. Provision, deployment and implementation of solutions including bandwidth leasing, Communications satellite based applications such as Internet infrastructure, Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), Telephony and Wireless Communications. NIGCOMSAT provides a wide array of products and services to end-users, while building and servicing networks and benchmarking international best practices in technology. Development of indigenous capabilities for research development and applications in basic space science and astronomy, remote sensing, meteorology and communications. In relation to space mission, activities are geared towards producing a Nigerian Astronaut by 2015, to Launch a satellite manufactured in Nigeria by 2018 and to Launch a satellite manufactured in Nigeria from a launch site in Nigeria on a launch vehicle made in Nigeria by 2025. The mission and vision statements guide the activities of NIGCOMSAT LTD; hence the Company owns, manages and operates communications satellites, starting with NIGCOMSAT-1 and NIGCOMSAT-1R. In order to sustain commercial activities, the Company is currently in the process of procuring two additional satellites, namely NIGCOMSAT-2 and 3. NIGCOMSAT Ltd has also deployed critical telecoms and satellite based communications services and applications to realize the projections for utilizing the satellite backbone, these include direct to home broadcasting services, internet services, telephony, tele-medicine.NASRDA developed a 25 year Road Map which will culminate in 2030 by which year Nigerian engineers should be able to build and launch satellites locally. NIGCOMSAT Ltd will become a customer to NASRDA to procure satellites from NASRDA for deployment of telecommunication services. NASRDA will also manufacture and sell satellites to other entities and nations too.
4. ORIGINATING INSTRUMENT Memorandum and Articles of Association;NIGCOMSAT Corporation Bill (passed by the House of Representatives and sent to the National Space Policy and NASRDA Act 2010
5. OBJECTIVES Managing and operating a fleet of NIGCOMSAT satellites to sustain the communication satellite business, which includes but is not limited to transponder leasing and telecommunications services in particular the Direct To Home transmission services. Pursue the development and domestication of space technology and its products towards enhancing job and wealth creation.
6. PARTNERS Satellite manufacturers such as China Great Wall Industry Corporation, Telecoms service providers, DTH content providers and aggregators and telecom equipment manufacturers. Partnership with local industry for the provision of raw materials for manufacturing and international collaboration with other Space Agencies and industries such as NASA, ESA, ISA, Canadian Space Agency (CSA), NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO), etc. It is important to note that there are different players within the space industry that NASRDA is expected to partner with (Section 6 of NASRDA Act). The roadmap for space missions also noted that the national space programme can only be sustained if the local supporting industries are available. Such industries will provide the raw materials, legislative backing, as well as components that are crucial to the activities of the Agency in the areas of manufacturing, Research and Development.NIGCOMSAT Ltd has a different partnership structure. The Company partners with satellite operators and service providers in the telecom industry.
7. CENTRES NIGCOMSAT Ltd has four centres- the Direct to Home Transmission Centre is mandated to provide signal carrier services for direct to home broadcasters.The Micro-electronics Centre provides vital components for ICT products and satellite services.

Satellite Ground Control Centre is mandated to deploy satellite-based broadband applications and services. The Strategic Applications Center oversees the utilization of communication satellite services and applications for national security.

Centre for Satellite Technology Development, Abuja with the mandate to undertake satellite manufacture and space missions.Centre for Space Transport and Propulsion, Epe with the mandate to manufacture rockets and develop launch facilities.

Centre for Basic Space Science and Astronomy, Nsukka with the mandate to carry out research and development in space environment.

Centre for Space Science Technology Education, Ile-Ife with the mandate to undertake capacity building in all areas of Space science and Technology.

National Centre for Remote Sensing, Jos with mandate to carry out research and development in applications areas of Earth Observation and Remote Sensing.

Centre for Geodesy and Geodynamics, Toro with the mandate to carry out research and development in areas of crustal movement.

NIGCOMSAT Ltd is in the business of satellite operations and application- based services, and the centers are working towards that common objective. NASRDA has development centres that work towards the implementation of the national space policy. The Centre for Satellite Technology Development for instance is to provide indigenous satellite launch and manufacturing services.Within the NASRDA Act, their development centres are clearly listed; NIGCOMSAT Ltd is not mentioned as one of its subsidiaries or Centres of NASRDA, under this Act or indeed any other legal document
8. INFRASTRUCTURE The main infrastructure is the communications satellite, NIGCOMSAT-1R, and the accompanying ground infrastructure, which includes two ground stations equipped with satellite control centres, network operations centres an teleports in Lagos and Abuja. In addition the company has built the Direct to Home transmission facility and the Satellite Ground Control Centre, the Micro-electronic facility Earth observation satellites- Nigeria Sat-1, NigeriaSat-2 and NigeriaSat- X, facilities housing the various centres mentioned above in 7. The existing and proposed infrastructure in NIGCOMSAT Ltd reflects the aims and objectives of the company to provide commercial communication satellite services. While the infrastructure of NASRDA reflects its mandate to develop indigenous capacity in building and launching satellites.
9. SATELLITE MANUFACTURING NIGCOMSAT Ltd procured the manufacture and launch of NIGCOMSAT-1 and NIGCOMSAT-1R from China Great Wall industry Corporation. S6(b) of NASRDA Act states that NASRDA shall „develop satellite technology for various applications and operationalize indigenous space systems for providing space services and shall be the government Agency charged with the responsibility for building and launching satellites’ And in accordance with their roadmap, NASRDA is to achieve technological competence in the manufacture and launch of satellites by the year 2025. Whereas for a satellite operator such as NIGCOMSAT, „procurement‟ refers to the expertise required to purchase satellites that meet and cater to the specific commercial needs of the operator‟s target market. This is currently being effected by NIGCOMSAT Ltd.In relation to a research agency, „building and launching‟ refers to development of the homegrown capabilities to assemble and integrate a satellite, as well as the capacity to build a launch vehicle dedicated to such launches. These are the core functions of the Centre for Satellite Technology Development (CSTD) and the Centre for Space Transport and Propulsion. In relation to launch activities, by 2011 NASRDA should have achieved the construction of a launch pad and 1st experimental launch vehicle LV1.
10 INTERNATIONAL EQUIVALENTS As a satellite operator and a commercial space and satellite communications outfit, NIGCOMSAT Ltd is similar to China SATCOM, Russia Satellite Company, Telesat of Canada, Intelsat, Eutelsat and SES New Skies. As a research and development agency NASRDA is similar to Canadian Space Agency, European Space Agency and NASA. The Canadian Space Agency is the research and development agency, charged with the administration of the Canadian Space Policy, which includes development of indigenous capacity to launch satellites. TELESAT, on the other hand is the commercial enterprise through which communication satellites are procured, managed and operated.Moreover, the Canadian practice is in tandem with space programs the world over. Even in cases where both the Agency and Satellite operator are government-owned the

research and development arm of the space programs are separated from commercial space enterprise, this is the case in the Chinese and Russian Space industries for instance. However when the research matures and becomes viable, it provides fuel for the growth of commercial space enterprise. It is therefore expected that a research agency such as NASRDA would be concerned primarily with the development of indigenous satellite building and launching capacity with a view to launching internationally competitive satellites within the National Space Policy timeframe.


11. POSITION IN THE SPACE/ ICT REGIME STRUCTURE As an independent commercial communications satellite company within Nigeria‟s Space Regime, NIGCOMSAT Ltd is under the supervision of the Federal Ministry of Communication Technology, the appropriate ministry to harness and supervise Nigeria‟s communications infrastructure. As a space research institution under the Federal Ministry of Science and Technology, the appropriate Ministry to harness and supervise science research.
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