Our dynamic Honourable Minister of Communications, Mr. Adebayo Shittu, has noted that the Nigerian Communications Satellite Ltd. (NIGCOMSAT) would be commercialized in order to position it for relevance and growth. Mr. Minister is perfectly correct. NIGCOMSAT has failed Nigeria, and it is very shameful. Nigeria sent satellites to the space without a single strategy on what to do with them. That is why after years of operating satellites, through our international partners, we have failed to unlock the values to improve the lives of our citizens. That is typical Nigerian: buy the car first, before you even consider going for driving test. Yes, they wrote the plan to send the satellites to the space, but none to make use of the downward signals.
Mr. Adebayo Shittu, the Minister of Communications says Nigerian Communications Satellite Ltd. (NIGCOMSAT) will be a competitive commercial service provider via commercialisation.
Shittu said this in a statement signed by Mr Henshaw Ogbubike, the Deputy Director, Press in the ministry on Monday in Abuja. …
The minister said that ever since the launch of NIGCOMSAT 1R in 2011, several efforts had been made to optimise the value of the satellite success.
He said that the recent initiative to introduce Direct-To-Home Television Broadband and Global Positioning Services was the first attempt to commercialise NIGCOMSAT 1R and appropriately position the company in global 86 [billion] dollars annual revenue industry.
But what the honourable minister plans to do may be too late for NIGCOMSAT unless the agency plans to launch new satellites. That will be a big mistake in this era of national austerity. The launched satellites are already old and are not optimized for most of the emerging opportunities today. Private satellite companies will do better than government, and that is the reason why government must sell NIGCOMSAT through a competitive bid. It is hopeless for government to continue to try. NIGCOMSAT mission is clear but it does not need to execute it for Nigeria,
NIGCOMSAT Ltd owns and operates the Nigerian Communications Satellite systems. The NigComSat-1R system is built to provide domestic and international satellite services via a 2 way satellite communications service across West, Central, South East Africa, Europe and Asia. Our main focus is to operate and manage the Nigerian Communications Satellites to provide on commercial basis, comprehensive transmission services via digital or analogue systems and to operate same by either fixed or mobile satellite, direct broadcast satellite services, end to end solutions and to engage in transponder leasing and such business for profit.
The Emerging Opportunities
Beyond TV, broadband and GPS services, satellite could help Nigeria unlock value in the agriculture sector. However, it is not very clear if the resolution of NIGCOMSAT satellites can deliver some of the services required in the emerging fields. Satellites can help detect pests, drought, diseases and other major challenges farmers deal with daily. Also, satellite can help in data transmission between farms and data centers where the data will be processed for insights. Nigerian farmers need this support. However, NIGCOMSAT is not positioned to deliver it. Besides agriculture, there are also opportunities in the defense sector.
There is a huge opportunity in the global satellite business which is estimated at $86 billion. At the moment, Nigeria loses $2.2 billion yearly owing to low adoption of satellites, according to Daily Trust. By commercializing NIGCOMSAT, Nigeria will reap huge benefits from the nation’s investments. The privatization must be competitively done to avoid the NEPA tragedy where privatization has brought nothing but more darkness. The nation must sell to quality companies with capacities to operate downside satellite operations. The minister got it right, and we hope he executes the privatization efficiently.
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