NIGCOMSAT DEPLOYS AFRICA’s FIRST SATELLITE BASED AUGMENTATION SYSTEMS

As part of efforts to become the leading satellite operator and service provider in Africa, NIGCOMSAT is deploying the first Satellite Based Augmentation Systems (SBAS) to provide a unique opportunity for African States and Regional Economic Communities (RECs) to align their navigation infrastructures at an affordable cost.
According to the SBAS precision approach coverage, Africa and South America are two major regions without performance-based positioning systems.

Fig. 1. SBAS service satellites and coverage. Source: GENEC INC

Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) refers to a constellation of satellites providing signals from space that transmit positioning and timing data to GNSS receivers. The receivers then use this data to determine location. By definition, GNSS provides global coverage. Examples of GNSS include Europe’s Galileo, the USA’s NAVSTAR Global Positioning System (GPS), Russia’s Global’naya Navigatsionnaya Sputnikovaya Sistema (GLONASS) and China’s BeiDou Navigation Satellite System.

The performance of GNSS is assessed using four criteria:

  • Accuracy: the difference between a receiver’s measured and real position, speed or time;
  • Integrity: a system’s capacity to provide a threshold of confidence and in the event of an anomaly in the positioning data, an alarm.
  • Continuity: a system’s ability to function without interruption.
  • Availability: the percentage of time a signal fulfils the above accuracy, integrity and continuity criteria.

This performance can be improved by regional satellite-based augmentation systems (SBAS) such as the European Geostationary Navigation Overlay Service (EGNOS).

In a chat with Africannews.space, the head of the Nigerian Satellite Augmentation System (NSAS) project, Dr. Lasisi Lawal Salami said NIGCOMSAT aims to improve accuracy and reliability of GNSS information by correcting signal measurement errors and providing information about the integrity of its signals.

“Through navigation overlay augmenting GNSS services, we will provide the needed continuity, availability and accuracy for various sectors. We are currently working with the Nigerian Defense Space Agency (NDSA) and National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA) as the major application of this solution is in defense and maritime sectors”, he said.

Dr. Lasisi added that the use of the GNSS capabilities of NIGCOMSAT 1R was declared a national priority in December 2004 by the Federal Executive Council.

 “Although we began exploiting the Ku and C band in 2013/2014 for hybrid global infrastructure, we spent 6 years without maximizing the navigation capabilities. Our L band has a global coverage (covering Asia, Africa, and Europe) and covers water bodies around Africa also. These include the Indian and the Atlantic Ocean. There is a need for international stakeholders providing second hand generation expert and we call on partners with the finance and technical manpower to join us on this project.”

On the threat of the application to National security this navigation capabilities, Dr. Lasisi explained that the most important thing is to ensure that the Federal Government retains 50% stake in the project to ensure that the interest of the Nation is covered—this project is capital intensive and there is a huge need for international partners since we will be serving a global audience with our satellite.

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