Nigeria Affirms Plan to Acquire Two Communication Satellites by 2025

A Long March-3B carrier rocket launches the NigComSat-1R on December 20, 2011, from China’s Xichang Satellite Launch Center. Source: Xinhua photo by Yao Jianfeng

In her opening statement at the 2021 edition of the NIGCOMSAT stakeholders forum, held at the Providence hotel in Lagos, Nigeria, Dr Alale assured the audience of the company’s desire to add two new satellites to the Nigerian satellite fleet by 2025. The new satellites (NigComSat-2 and NigComSat-3) are essential to further stamp NigComSat’s position as a global satellite operator. 

“This will not only inspire confidence in our customers and channel partners but also place NIGCOMSAT Ltd in the front line of communication satellite operators with a fleet of satellites in orbit,” she added.

The NigComSat-2 project, which is still in its preliminary phase as only the Request for Proposals (RFP) has been sent out, will be a public-private partnership (PPP). Furthermore, the NigComSat-2 satellite will be a High throughput satellite (HTS) with a total throughput of 300 Gbps. It will also include triband spacecraft – C band for Telemetry, Tracking and Command (TT&C) systems to provide the most vital telecommunication link between a satellite and ground station; Ka-band; and Ku-band. Also, the orbital slot for the NigComSat-2 will either be 9.5 degrees west or 16 degrees west, based on the orbital filling with International Telecommunications Union (ITU).

The communication satellite will have several applications spanning direct-to-home (DTH) broadcasting service, telemedicine, Tele-education, broadband services and Internet of Things (IoT) solutions. Furthermore, the satellite would bridge the digital divide, increase broadband penetration and provide broadband services in line with national broadband policy.

Dr Alale further said that NigComSat had obtained approval in early 2020 to form two subsidiary companies (SUBCOs) – the Satellite Infrastructure Company (SIC); and Satellite Broadcasting and Broadband Company (SBBC). On the one hand, the SIC will provide satellite upstream services such as transponder leasing, in-orbit services, and Carrier Spectrum Management (CSM) services. On the other hand, SBBC will provide satellite downstream services such as broadband Internet services and broadcasting (DTH) services.

Noting that service quality and customer experience are paramount in service delivery, she emphasised that NigComSat has acquired the latest Dialog Hub with 51F for the satellite broadband Ka services and is actively building stronger relationships with channel partners. Additionally, she stressed that the firm’s business processes are seamless per the International Standard Organisation (ISO) certification.

Dr Alale mentioned that NigComSat Ltd provided satellite connectivity services via NigComSat-1R for the live broadcast of the virtual commissioning of the Ajaokuta, Kaduna and Kano (AKK) gas pipelines by President Muhammadu Buhari as one of NigComSat’s milestones in recent times.

“Another milestone was achieved late last year, to be precise, in September 2020. Our collaboration with Thales Alenia Space of France and the Agency for Aerial Navigation Safety in Africa and Madagascar (ASECNA) to provide a Satellite-Based Augmentation System (SBAS) using NigComSat-1R Navigational services for the first time over Africa and the Indian Ocean”, explained Dr Alale.

According to her, the collaboration is in line with NigComSat’s desire to champion several disruptive applications of SBAS technology, utilising precise point positioning and warning alerts in a digitalised economy across many sectors for sustainable development in the continent. In addition, NigComSat will continue to support and contribute to the success of SBAS flight demonstrations using NIGCOMSAT-1R navigation payload to sensitise stakeholders towards acceptance and adoption of SBAS technology in Africa’s Aviation sector for its many benefits, especially as it concerns the improvement of operational safety, reduction in operating costs. 

On the human capacity development programmes in Nigeria, Dr Alale said, “NigComSat has trained 600 youths across six geo-political zones in the country, and has equipped them with proper tools to participate in growing the digital economy achievements of the agency as specified in the National Broadband Plan 2020-2025”.

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