The Director General, National Space Research and Development Agency (NASRDA), Prof. Seidu Onailo Mohammed, has said it is disturbing that 97 per cent of satellites hovering above and covering the African continent are owned by non-African nations and organisations.
Mohammed weekend averred that the foreign companies realise colossal financial benefits running into millions of dollars far exceeding the annual budget of some African countries. “Investment in space technology, particularly communication satellites can reel out immense economic development for any nation”, he said.
The NASRDA boss acknowledged that space technology is the driving force behind developed and emerging nations like USA and India respectively, stressing that “although we may have started late, but we have been wise enough to leap-frog into the realm of space-faring nations possessing space technology capabilities”.
Mohammed called on stakeholders in the space industry to key into the successes recorded by the agency in the capabilities of her satellite technologies, especially the communication satellite so as to capture Africa’s communication, broadcast, and broadband markets thereby improving the mass economy of Nigeria.
This was contained in a statement signed by NASRDA’s Deputy Director of Media and Communications, Mr. Felix Ale, who also quoted Prof. Tunji Ibiyemi, a University of Ilorin don, that government should as a matter of urgency return the Nigerian Communication Satellite (NigComSat-1R) back to its original parent body (NASRDA).
Ibiyemi, according to the statement, expressed regret that 42 months after the successful launch of the NigComSat-1R, it has not recorded any appreciable achievements or made impact in the lives of the people.
To him, the satellite has been under-utilised, blaming the situation on high level of incompetence and lack of proper supervision and commitment on the part of leadership of the NigComSat.
The don maintained that there is no way the communication satellite can be made to achieve its desired objectives as planned by its parent body with its current movement to another agency that knows little or nothing about its motives and objectives at inception.
He explained that the communication satellite should be a commercial arm of the NASRDA in line with the usual practice across the globe.
He called on the new administration to as a matter of urgency effect the transfer of NigComSat-1R back to the agency, so as to bring about the required synergy to enable the full and successful implementation of the Nigerian space programme for the overall benefits of the Nigerian people.
In a remark, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Science and Technology, Mrs. Winifred Oyo-Ita, said space technology is strategic and it also reflects the power of a nation.
She stressed the need for Nigeria as an emerging economy to embrace the capabilities of the space so as to speed up its drive towards realising a viable socio-economic status as a nation as well among other space capable nations of the world. -Thisday