It’s difficult to conduct accurate weather forecasts in Nigeria due to lack of adequate meteorology equipment, and the maritime infrastructure in the country is little to write home about. The problem of inaccuracy in weather forecasts has led to damages to vessels resulting from violent waves in the high seas. This makes it easy for international oil companies to carry out exploitative practices in their operations, but the federal government is making plans to banish these things into a distant memory.
The Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) is reportedly collaborating with the Nigeria Meteorological Agency (NIMET) to provide accurate weather forecast for safe navigation. Sources also state that a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) had been signed by both agencies in this regard. This proposed collaboration is geared towards the establishment of some coastal meteorological stations across the country.
However, spokesman of the National Space Research and Development Agency (NASRDA), Dr Felix Ale, said the agency has the capability to provide accurate weather forecast for use by any agency in Nigeria. According to Ale, weather reports were sent to relevant government agencies as frequently as possible, and there was no need for officials of government to go abroad for this purpose. He added that most times, officials of the government engaged foreign companies to source meteorological information for Nigeria, but these foreign firms would get the required information from NASRDA and unscrupulously sell to these officials of government.
“Officials of government agencies go abroad to engage foreign companies to source meteorological reports on Nigeria. These foreign firms, in turn, come to NASRDA to source this information and sell to these officials. Some of these officials do this because of the foreign exchange they get when they travel abroad. They should stop this idea of running abroad for satellite data information when these data are available in Nigeria”, Ale noted.
It has also been reported that NARSDA has entered into a joint venture (JV) with Atlantic Factorial to provide a high-resolution image of activities on the waters. Confirming the JV, Managing Director of Atlantic Factorial, Mr Leke Oyewole, said that massive leakages had been observed in the maritime sector occasioned by inadequate surveillance of the maritime domain, leading to trade infractions which ultimately cause loss of revenue.
“We currently boast of the largest constellation of satellites (240 +), belonging to our partners and over 100 ground stations globally. Our capability cuts across the sub-metre resolution imagery of any location on the planet (72cm which is not surpassed by any other company worldwide), maritime, aviation, meteorology and radio frequency analytics”, said Oyewole.
“In recent years, the need to monitor our highways, bushes, remote communities, towns and cities has come to the fore. We can provide for the government, daily surveillance reports detailed by radio frequency communications and high-resolution imagery, with short videos of suspected locations within the entire expanse of Nigeria for security action. Similarly, we have observed massive leakages in the maritime sector occasioned by inadequate surveillance of the maritime domain; mother ships that import petroleum products to Nigeria with official foreign exchange, either import through neighbouring countries, or when they come to Nigeria, NPA / NIMASA are not paid revenues due to them because these ships don’t get to the ports by reason of their size,” Oyewole added.
With volatile weather conditions across the country, the need for accurate forecasts and reporting cannot be over-emphasised. This underscores the importance of satellite services and technology, and it is hoped that these proposed collaborations not only come into fruition, but also yield the desired effect in ensuring effective weather monitoring in Nigeria.
Jerry Chiemeke is an editor, writer and mental health advocate. His works have appeared in Bellanaija, True Nollywood Stories, Music In Africa and The Guardian, among others. Jerry is the winner of the 2017 Ken Saro Wiwa Prize for Reviews. He is a Senior Editor at Space in Africa.