By Johnbosco Agbakwuru
ABUJA—TWO Chinese firms that are into satellite manufacturing, China EXIM Bank and China Great Walls, have agreed with the Federal Government to procure two satellites.
Minister of Communication, Mr. Adebayo Shittu, disclosed this to State House correspondents, yesterday, after meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
The minister said the satellites, which will take about two years to manufacture, will serve the African continent.
He said: “I am in the Presidency to see Mr. President and to brief him on some major issues. One, NigComSat, which is one of our agencies where we hope to procure two new satellites from China.
“Initially, the agreement was that they will provide the cost of the two satellites at $550 million minus 15 per cent, which is the counterpart funding.
“Because we could not afford the 15 per cent, we have renegotiated with China EXIM Bank and China Great Walls, which are the manufacturers and they have agreed to pay the entire $550 million to procure two new satellites. The two new ones will ensure that the Nigerian satellite company which is NigCOMSAT can conquer the entire African continent with regard to the provision of satellite communication services.
“This is a very big business opportunity and I am sure that the Chinese appreciate the potential market which is so vast and that is why they have agreed that even without our ability to contribute 15 percent, they are prepared to pay the entire sum of $550 million for the procurement of the two new satellites for Nigeria.”
On when Nigeria will launch the two new satellites, the Minister said it will take two years to procure.
According to him, “It will take two years to produce because it is when we sign the papers that they will start production. We hope that before the end of this month, we will sign the papers and then they will commence the production. It is at the completion of the production that the two satellites will be launched.”
He explained that the money was not loan, rather equity participation of Chinese company in the nation’s business.
He said: “It is not a loan. It will be equity participation of the Chinese company into our business. NigComSat is a limited liability company owned entirely by the Federal Government.”
Of course Nigeria has nothing to loss because we are not putting anything into it in terms of financial resources.
“The president was excited and was not surprised because the Chinese are not just going to market our satellite to the entire African continent but also perhaps by legislation insists that all Nigerian entities must patronize the Nigerian satellite company rather than going to Isreal, UK, US for satellite services.
“Now we can say by our local content policy we must patronize Nigeria.”