In a significant stride toward enhancing satellite-based navigation in Africa, NIGCOMSAT Ltd and Thales Alenia Space (TAS) have renewed their joint venture agreement for the development of the Satellite-Based Augmentation System (SBAS).
This renewal comes in the wake of their successful SBAS flight demonstration earlier this year, solidifying their commitment to advancing navigation and positioning systems in the region.
The signing of the Joint Venture Agreement took place in Toulouse, France, where NIGCOMSAT Ltd’s managing director, Engr. Tukur Mohammed Lawal, expressed his enthusiasm for the agreement. He hailed it as a new chapter of business opportunities that would benefit not only NIGCOMSAT Ltd but also stakeholders in both the aviation and non-aviation sectors across Africa. Lawal urged these stakeholders to seize this opportunity, emphasising the potential it holds for economic growth on the continent.
The journey to this agreement began with a milestone achievement when NIGCOMSAT Ltd successfully conducted a flight demonstration using the King 350i aircraft from the Nigerian Airspace Management Authority (NAMA). This demonstration showcased the Augmented Navigation for Africa (ANGA) Signal-in-Space (SIS), powered by NigComSat-1R. The event unfolded at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport and was attended by a distinguished contingent from the Agency for Aerial Navigation Safety in Africa and Madagascar (ASECNA), ECDG-DEFIS, representatives of aviation organisations such as AON and AFON, as well as SatNav Africa JPO. Representatives from various ministries, departments and agencies, including the Ministry of Communications, Innovation, and Digital Economy, as well as the Ministry of Aviation and Aerospace Development, were also present, alongside prominent aviation stakeholders from 54 African countries.
The project manager for SBAS, Dr. Lasisi Salami Lawal highlighted the significance of the SBAS flight demonstration within Nigerian airspace. He noted the remarkable precision it demonstrated in guiding the aircraft during take-off, aligning it on the take-off track, managing the initial climb and guiding it along the inbound track for landing. The SBAS, an aviation-grade safety-of-life (SoL) satellite-based navigation system, promises reliability with integrity and high accuracy in positioning.
Lasisi emphasised that this technology represents a game-changing advancement for aviation. It not only enhances flight safety and efficiency but also significantly improves the user experience while contributing to reduced CO2 emissions through decreased fuel consumption.
Moreover, Lasisi pointed out that SBAS technology has broader applications beyond aviation. It extends its benefits to sectors such as precision agriculture, land and maritime transport, inland waterways navigation, rail safety, oil and gas exploration, drone navigation, mapping and cadastral surveys, and mass-market applications in location-based services (LBS). It also plays a crucial role in secured time transfer and synchronization in smart power transmission and distribution systems, as well as in telecommunications networks, especially those requiring precision timing in microseconds, such as 5G networks.
NIGCOMSAT’s general manager of corporate affairs and special projects, Dr. Adamu Idris shed light on the partnership between Thales Alenia Space and Telespazio, forming the parent company’s ‘Space Alliance.’ This alliance, which has a combined 40 years of experience, offers a diverse range of services and brings together talents and cultures from both Thales (67 per cent) and Leonardo (33 per cent).
NIGCOMSAT Ltd, on the other hand, operates under the Federal Ministry of Communications, Innovation and Digital Economy, establishing itself as the premier and leading communications satellite operator in Sub-Saharan Africa.
As the renewed joint venture between NIGCOMSAT Ltd and Thales Alenia Space gains momentum, it holds the promise of revolutionising satellite-based navigation and positioning systems in Africa. With the SBAS technology at its core, the partnership aims to usher in a new era of safety, efficiency and precision across aviation and various other sectors, ultimately contributing to the continent’s socio-economic growth. The collaboration between these two giants in the satellite industry underscores the commitment to advancing technological solutions that benefit the African continent and its people.