IN line with its plan to use the recently launched Nigeria Communications Satellite to revolutionise Information and Communications Technology penetration in Nigeria, government at the weekend unfolded a string of programmes towards achieving the goal.
Top on the list is the drive to use the satellite to boost government’s e-governance and e-learning agenda. The nation’s tertiary institutions are also to benefit from a ‘walless’ programme that would connect them through virtual library and seamless campus connection.
Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of NIGCOMSAT Limited, Timasaniyu Ahmed-Rufai, who disclosed this during an interactive session with journalists in Abuja, listed the benefits of the satellite to government agencies and other business enterprises as, among others, reduction in the cost of bandwidth acquisition, which, according to him, costs Nigeria N75 billion yearly.
The satellite will also, according to Ahmed-Rufai, boost development of indigenous software applications to aid Nigeria’s quest for a knowledge economy; boost the nation’s telecommunications service delivery and facilitate the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) pursuit of a cash-less economy.
The NIGCOMSAT boss said the facility had already attracted the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA), Nigerian Army, Nigeria Postal Service (NIPOST), Nigeria Customs Service, Galaxy Backbone, Nigeria Immigration Service, security operatives and several Internet Service Providers (ISP).
He added that the satellite, which has capacity to cover over 40 African countries, has already got a request from Ghana to supply two transponders. Other countries that have expressed interest in the facility, according to him, include Sierra Leone, Congo Brazzaville, Kenya, Angola, South Africa and six European nations.
Ahmed-Rufai said: “We are to sell satellite-based solutions which come from an institution that is home-grown. We are the only satellite operator in Sub-Saharan Africa. Our satellite is designed for Nigeria and Africa, but globally-positioned. We’ve been reaching out to our customers since the pre-launch marketing campaign.
“Based on the excellent performance of the NigComSat-1, customers are interested in the replacement NigComSat-1R. Many of them are ready to migrate from their existing providers. Already 60 per cent of government entities have expressed interest in the satellite’s services.”
The NIGCOMSAT boss explained that the launch of the satellite will leapfrog the country’s knowledge economy drive. “We are trying to build talented Nigerians that can create products that will be competitive in the global market. By doing so, we will be developing a pool of highly-skilled workers. If you want to create a knowledge economy, you have to create humans with knowledge,” he said.
By facilitating access to e-education, Ahmed-Rufai said study materials would be made available to about 78 universities in the country via the company’s e-Library project, expected to take off in June 2012.
To forestall possible failure of the satellite, Ahmed-Rufai disclosed that in the next couple of years, two satellites will be launched to act as back up to the NigComSat-1R.
According to him, the first of the satellites, the NigComSat-2 will be launched 30 months from now, while the other, the NigComSat-3, will be launched one year after the launch of the first.