Nigerian Communications Satellite (NIGCOMSAT) Ltd is a limited liability company under the supervision of the Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy. It operates and manages NigComSat -1R. NIGCOMSAT-1R is a geostationary communications satellite launched into orbital slot of 42.5 East degree on December 19, 2011.
So far, over 70 per cent of the transponders on NigComSat-1R have been utilized for different kinds of services, ranging from satellite broadband to drive activities of the banking, health, education, agriculture, oil & gas, maritime sectors, direct-to-home services, backhauling services, communication on the move and navigational services etc.
Recently, a memorandum of understanding (MoU) was signed between NIGCOMSAT Ltd and the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) for the clearance and use of C-band frequency for the deployment of 5G in the country. C-band spectrum is considered suitable and appropriate for immediate deployment of 5G services taking into consideration availability of the device’s ecosystem with 60-70 per cent of global commercial 5G network deployment currently on the C-band spectrum.
Beyond the commonplace ceremony that accompanied the event, the MoU is a development that will open up vistas of growth in the telecommunication’s industry. Concomitantly, it also holds the potential to stimulate the country’s economy even as it signposts the capacity of NIGCOMSAT Ltd to contribute to Nigeria developing a digital ecosystem.
NIGCOMSAT also gained another milestone when it entered into partnership with Thales Alenia Space and ASCENA (Agency for Aerial Safety and Navigation in Africa) to demonstrate the viability of NigComSat-1R L-Band payload. The cooperation has since proven its effectiveness to aid aviation safety in Senegal and Togo.
There was a satellite-based augmentation system (SBAS) broadcast signal over Africa and the Indian Ocean in September 2020. The test bed signal-in space was successfully broadcast through NigComSat-1R SBAS payload globally over Africa, Indian Ocean, West Australian coast and Europe. A 9m antenna earth station in Abuja ground station was used with equipment provided by Thales Alenia Space.
It is also worthy of note to mention here the wholesome services rendered to some television stations in the country and outside the country. The Telco Press operating in Burkina Faso and Cote d’ Ivoire are major customers on NigComSat-1R including some private televisions who sought anonymity. The Nigerian Television Authority has been operating on NigComSat-1R too.
NigComSat-1R has also been used to support some of the activities of the digitization agenda of the Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy under the supervision of the minister, Dr. Isa Pantami. Some of the activities include training of 600 youths across the country on V-SAT installation to close the digital skills gap, the National Broadband Plan (2020-2025) and the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy (2020-2030).
NIGCOMSAT Ltd has contributed immensely to broadband penetration target in line with the government expectations in the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy (NDEPS), 2010-2030 and in other aspects of the economic development of the country.
There is need to encourage MDAs and the private sector to patronize NIGCOMSAT’s products and services against portfolio investments from outside the country that deplete the hard-earned foreign reserve.
Dr. Abimbola Alale is the managing director of the Nigerian Communications Satellite (NIGCOMSAT) Ltd.