In line with Space in Africa’s 2020 in Review series, we had a chat with Dr Abimbola Alale, the Managing Director of NigComSat on what the company has been up to in 2020 and what to look forward to in 2021.
The world has experienced a shocking disruption like never before, how was NigComSat able to fit into this new environment?
Globally, businesses were disrupted by the pandemic. However, broadband business seems to be the only business that actually provides a platform for other businesses to ride on through the provision of internet services to other businesses which NIGCOMSAT actually does. Fitting in the new business environment has been seamless for NIGCOMSAT.
In comparison to other agencies, or other government communication companies, NigComSat is well funded. But was this funding affected any way in 2020 due to the pandemic?
Generally, all Government-funded agencies were affected during the pandemic but don’t forget that NIGCOMSAT also generates fund.
What would you say are the primary projects that NigComSat set out to execute this year, and was NigComSat able to complete them?
Project in the satellite industry is continuous. However, we were able to execute most of the operational based projects for a better quality of service and good customers’ experience.
Regardless of the pandemic, governments were able to sign bilateral agreements, corporations continued to exist, and business went on, although not as usual. How has NigComSat fared in terms of multilateral partnerships, or agreements and collaborations with other sectors?
Before the pandemic, NIGCOMSAT is an organisation that is open to collaborations locally and internationally. During the peak of the pandemic, we were able to collaborate with multinational agencies and national agencies in the delivery of tailored-made solutions.
Across the continent, no satellite was launched this year. But several countries are beginning to navigate towards executing satellite projects in the future. What is the current status of communication satellites in Nigeria, and what is NigComSat’s projection?
Looking at sub-Saharan Africa, communication satellite is actually a tool for rural internet penetration. Well, NIGCOMSAT is looking at acquiring a High Throughput Satellite (HTS) for more bandwidth capacity, High-Speed internet in service delivery and value for money.
Q3 GDP report indicates that Nigeria’s best performing sector is the information and telecommunications sector. Did NigComSat contribute to this? If yes, how. If no, what are the impediments?
Yes, of course, we are one of the contributors to success in the sector. 25% of IGR of NIGCOMSAT goes to the Federal Government and this has been a routine since NIGCOMSAT LTD was commercialized.
Nigeria, and by extension, Africa, will experience population boom that will skyrocket up till 2025, is NigComSat ready to dig into the opportunity inherent in this boom?
We are very much ready for market opportunities. In fact, part of our strategy is to launch HTS with multiple gateways and also to develop our market in all Africa countries.
During NigeriaCom 2020, it was revealed that satellite is contributing only 0.2% to Nigeria’s connectivity. The new Nigeria broadband plan is placing about 10% of the connectivity burden on NigComSat, will NigComSat be able to deliver?
Connectivity contribution largely depends on the utilization. NIGCOMSAT has an existing infrastructure that is capable of accommodating more users on the satellite network.
What should Nigerians expect from NigComSat in 2021?
Better services, good quality of service and more innovative solutions that meet the customers’ expectation and expansion of our market base.