The Federal Government is seeking investors, who have the capacity to put down $550m for the acquisition of two new communication satellites for use by the Nigerian Communications Satellite Limited.
The Minister of Communications, Mr Adebayo Shittu, disclosed this in an interview with our correspondent in Abuja.
Shittu said, “Government has decided that we should look for equity participation rather than take loans. That means that we should get a good company that is ready to help us to bring in those two new satellites.
“For China, it was to be loan but now, we are looking for equity participation. The search continues. The NigComSat management is doing the search for new equity participation.”
The government’s quest to acquire two new communication satellites emanates from the belief that the present NigComSat-1R currently being operated by Nigerian Communications Satellite Limited has been poorly patronised because there is no provision for redundancy.
Although the China Export Import Bank had agreed to fund the construction of the two new satellites by the China Great Wall Industry Corporation, the Nigerian government seems wary of additional Chinese loans, preferring investment in the satellite project to more loans.
The two new communication satellites to be known as NigComSat-2 and NigComSat-3 satellites are designed to operate in a geostationary orbit and deliver to orbit locations of 19 degrees East and 22 degrees West, respectively for the provision of C-Band, Ku-Band and Ka-Band payload capability for a minimum service life of 15 years.
NigcomSat-2 is designed to cover Nigeria, the Middle East, China and other Asian countries, whilst NigComSat-3 will cover Nigeria and South and North America.
With the three satellites in orbit, it will be possible for the Nigerian telecommunications industry to dominate the African market within a period of five years after the launch of the satellites.
Nigeria’s first communications satellite, NigComSat-1, was designed and built by the CGWIC at a cost of $400m. The satellite, which was put in the orbit in May 2007, was de-orbited in November 2008 following the development of power fault. It was replaced in December 2011 with NigComSat-1R by the same company.
Apart from communication satellite, Nigeria has been active on earth observation satellites constructed in Europe.
The contracts for the construction of two earth observation satellites, NigeriaSat-1 and NigeriaSat-2, were awarded to Surrey Satellite Technologies Limited, a United Kingdom-based satellite firm.
NigeriaSat-2 was awarded to the company in 2006 at a cost of £34m. Another 18 per cent of the cost was spent on the insurance of the spacecraft.
As part of the package, 26 Nigerian engineers were trained in the construction of satellite with hands-on experience acquired put to use in the construction of the experimental satellite, the NigeriaSat-X.
The inauguration of NigeriaSat-2 and NigeriaSat-X in August 2011 brought to five the number of satellites that the country had taken to the orbit since the first satellite, another earth observation satellite, known as NigeriaSat-1, was put in the orbit on September 27, 2003.
The second satellite put in the orbit for Nigeria is the Nigeria Communications Satellite known for short as NigComSat-1, which was launched in the orbit in 2007.