ASECNA and NIGCOMSAT Provides Africa’s First Early SBAS Open Service

ASECNA, NIGCOMSAT Ltd and Thales Alenia Space take a crucial step towards the provision of satellite navigation services in the Africa & Indian Ocean region

Dr Abimbola Alale, Managing Director of NigComSat

The Agency for Air Navigation Safety in Africa and Madagascar, ASECNA, has started to broadcast SBAS (Satellite-Based Augmentation System) signal over Africa & Indian Ocean (AFI) region, providing the first SBAS open service in this part of the world via NIGCOMSAT-1R Satellite managed and operated by Nigerian Communications Satellite Ltd under Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy of Nigeria.

This early open service is provided as part of the SBAS for Africa & Indian Ocean programme which pursues the autonomous provision over the continent of SBAS services, to augment the performances of the satellite navigation constellations GPS and Galileo. With improved accuracy to within a meter, and boosted integrity, availability and continuity of safety-related applications, these SBAS services will improve flight safety and efficiency in Africa, and also benefit to the economy in many areas as land, sea and rail transport, as well as mass-market applications, supporting user safety, cost-effectiveness and sustainable development.

The launched open service essentially aims to carry-out technical trials, and to undertake with partner airlines field demonstrations for aircraft and rotorcraft, to demonstrate the benefits of the future operational safety-of-life SBAS services, expected from 2024. It will also include early Precise Point Positioning (PPP) and emergency warning service to populations, which performance will be proven through other demonstrations.

The signal-in-space is generated by a dedicated system testbed, developed as part of the “SBAS for Africa and the Indian Ocean” preliminary design phase, financed by the European Union and awarded to Thales Alenia Space, Joint Venture between Thales (67%) and Leonardo (33%). The “SBAS for Africa and Indian Ocean” is based on the European Geostationary Navigation Overlay System developed by the European Space Agency (ESA) acting under the delegation of the European Commission and operated by the European GNSS Agency GSA.

The system prototype uses as reference stations network the SAGAIE network deployed by CNES and ASECNA with the support of Thales Alenia Space.

The signal is broadcasted via the SBAS payload on NigComSat 1R GEO satellite of the Nigerian Communications Satellite Ltd and an uplink station deployed in Abuja (Nigeria). It is compliant to the Standards and Recommended Practices of the International Civil Aviation Organisation, and the Minimum Operational Performance Standard developed by the RTCA (Radio Technical Commission for Aeronautics) organisation. It will be visible in the whole Africa and the Indian Ocean, up to the West Australian coast, and also in Europe.

We are proud to be part of this ambitious program to provide satellite navigation services in the Africa and Indian Ocean region. The use of our geostationary communication satellite NIGCOMSAT-1R navigation payload to broadcast the first signal will be Africa’s premier contribution to SBAS as a regional satellite-based augmentation system for the continent” declared Dr Abimbola Alale, MD/CEO of NIGCOMSAT Ltd.

Our longstanding expertise acquired with the development of EGNOS SBAS in Europe and KASS SBAS in Korea combined with our new leading-edge satellite positioning technologies makes Thales Alenia Space the ideal partner to best support countries to implement their own SBAS efficiently. The equatorial region represents also a key engineering challenge for such a system due to difficult ionosphere conditions, for which Thales Alenia Space has developed a proven solution”, declared Benoit Broudy, Vice President Navigation business at Thales Alenia Space.

The provision of the first African SBAS early service is a crucial major step forward in the development of satellite navigation in the AFI Region, and in the deployment of the “SBAS for Africa and the Indian Ocean” system, the navigation solution for Africa by Africa. It demonstrates the ambition and commitment of ASECNA to enhance air navigation safety for the benefit of the whole continent, in line with my vision for the unification of the African Sky”, stated Mohamed Moussa, Director General of ASECNA. 

About ASECNA

ASECNA is an International public organisation. Its main mission is to provide air navigation services within the airspace of 16,500,000 square kilometres, divided into six flight information regions (F.I.R) as defined by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). ASECNA also develops solutions for airport management, aviation infrastructure studies and construction, equipment maintenance, calibration of air navigation instruments and training for civil aviation staff. Its 18 Member States are Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Comoros, Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, France, Gabon, Guinea Bissau, Equatorial Guinea, Madagascar, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Senegal, Chad and Togo.

About Thales Alenia Space

Drawing on over 40 years of experience and a unique combination of skills, expertise and cultures, Thales Alenia Space delivers cost-effective solutions for telecommunications, navigation, Earth observation, environmental management, exploration, science and orbital infrastructures. Governments and private industry alike count on Thales Alenia Space to design satellite-based systems that provide anytime, anywhere connections and positioning, monitor our planet, enhance management of its resources, and explore our Solar System and beyond. Thales Alenia Space sees space as a new horizon, helping to build a better, more sustainable life on Earth. A joint venture between Thales (67%) and Leonardo (33%), Thales Alenia Space also teams up with Telespazio to form the parent companies’ Space Alliance, which offers a complete range of services. Thales Alenia Space posted consolidated revenues of approximately 2.15 billion euros in 2019 and has around 7,700 employees in nine countries.

About NIGCOMSAT

Nigerian Communications Satellite Ltd (NIGCOMSAT) is a company and agency under the Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy whose mission is to be the leading satellite operator and service provider in Africa. NIGCOMSAT Ltd owns and operates the Nigerian Communications Satellite. The company provides innovative and cutting-edge satellite communications solutions by operating and managing a geostationary communication satellite-NigComSat–1R, built to provide domestic and international satellite services via a 2-way satellite communications services across West, Central, South-East Africa, Europe and Asia. The satellite is a hybrid Communication Satellite with a payload for navigation overlay services (NOS) system similar to EGNOS.

 

NIGCOMSAT Ltd Press Contacts:

Mr. Adamu Idris (GM Corporate Affairs)
Tel: +234 (0)8037861323 aidris@nigcomsat.gov.ng

Dr. Lasisi Salami LAWAL (SBAS Project Manager)
Tel: +234 (0)8055233708 lasisi@nigcomsat.gov.ng

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New Report: The 2020 Edition of African Space Industry Annual Report is now available. It presents data and analyses on projects, deals, partnership and investments across the continent. It also provides analyses on the growing demand for space technologies and data on the continent, the business opportunities it offers and the necessary regulatory environment in the various countries.

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