By Prince Osuagwu
The Chief Executive Officer, Nigerian Communication Satellite (NIGCOMSAT) limited, Mr. Ahmed Rufai has said that having fully trained nearly 150 young engineers who are equipped to fit into any global engineering field, Nigeria was ready to take on the world in science and technological excellence.
Rufai said that having taken a cursory look at the genesis of the organization he was satisfied that former President Olusegun Obasanjo had endorsed a blue print that would bail the country out of the woods. According to him, to complement Obasanjo’s efforts, “we went to work immediately to go beyond the satellite bandwidth backbone for multimedia industry by sending our engineers abroad to acquire knowledge not only for satellite communications engineering and its applications but also other areas of ancillary and foundation technology including software and hardware engineering such as algorithms for various micro electronic based products such as Printed Circuit Board (PCB) laptop and desktop computers, cameras, decoders, industrial control boards, GSM phone manufacturing, e_voting solution, staff attendance smart card for time theft and ghost workers control and management among others.
“Thereafter, May 13, 2007 became for us a watershed when we launched NigComSat_ 1 at the cost of $256m, of which China Export Import Bank gave a seed loan of $200m, and offer to control and manage it for two years. But unfortunately, due to solar array power assembly problems, the satellite was de_orbited on November 10, 2008, 18 months after launch”.
Rufai said, that the demise of the satellite, did not in any way discourage the objective to take Nigeria to the next level in space, as the Chinese authorities quickly commenced replacement of the satellite at no cost to Nigeria.
He said that presently, NIGCOMSAT is urging the government to address the issue of back_up satellite, NigComSat _2and 3, respectively to guarantee smooth business operation.
Rufai said that as soon as NigComSat_1R is launched the back up satellites would benefit the broadcasting industry and the medical circle tremendously while other services like telepresence, community telecenters, broadband would also be available to users.
He revealed that the re_launch may hopefully take place in the 3rd quarter of 2011 even as he boasted that “our engineers here at NIGCOMSAT can match and compete favorably with their colleagues else where in the world”