By Prince Osuagwu
LAGOS — INDICATIONS emerged, Tuesday, that Nigeria may have considered the option of building another satellite immediately after the launch of the NIGCOMSAT1R, later this year.
Nigcomsat1R is actually a replacement of Nigeria’s communications satellite NIGCOMSAT1 which got lost in the orbit.
However, the government may have also decided that any satellite builder proposing to get the contract must agree to train Nigerian engineers so that they too can become satellite builders in future.
This was the position of Nigeria Communications Commission, NCC’s Executive Commissioner for engineering and standards, Bashir Gwandu, after delivering a paper “enhancing Africa’s Access to ICT Via Satellite” at the ongoing SATCOM Africa 2011, in Johannesburg, South Africa..
Fielding questions after the presentations, Gwandu admitted that there is a scramble among satellite companies to build the second satellite in Nigeria, but made vehement claim that government was interested in companies that would transfer technology to Nigeria engineers.
Gwandu said that most of the companies signifying interest unfortunately have business models that do not support technology transfer and the Chinese companies are still top on the list to clinching the contract, having shown tremendous interest in technology transfer.
He noted that Nigeria does not have the luxury of throwing away the huge sum of money the contract would cost, in the name of contracting popular names when Nigeria engineers can not do anything if the satellite develops faults.
He believed that China would still get the job, though they are amateurs because they have something to teach Nigerian engineers. He called on satellite operators to take the advantage of Africa’s low sat availability to invest more.