The director-general of the National Space Research and Development Agency (NASRDA), Dr. Halilu Shaba has highlighted the significance of the Very Long Baseline Interferometry (VLBI) project in monitoring geodynamic phenomena in Nigeria and sub-Saharan Africa, including earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.
Shaba, who made the claim during a meeting with scientists from the Shanghai Astronomical Observatory (SHAO) at NASRDA’s headquarters in Abuja, emphasised that the Nigerian government, under the leadership of President Bola Tinubu, is committed to ensuring the safety of its citizens, particularly during natural disasters. The establishment of the VLBI project is crucial in effectively monitoring these events and providing relevant data to mitigate their impact.
Shaba expressed his gratitude for the timely visit of the SHAO team, as Nigeria is in need of accurate space-related data for informed policy formulation and implementation. He further explained that Toro in Bauchi State was selected as the site for the project due to its strategic location on the global map.
Acknowledging the efforts and contributions of SHAO, Shaba pledged NASRDA’s support in all aspects of the project’s implementation. He emphasised the importance of capacity building for indigenous engineers and scientists, urging the MOU implementation committee to commence work promptly to ensure the project’s timely completion and maximise its benefits for Nigerians.
The acting director of the Centre for Geodesy and Geodynamics (CGG) in Toro, Dr. Joseph Dodo provided an insightful presentation on the strategic importance of establishing the VLBI project. He highlighted its capacity for earth observation research and accurate monitoring of the translation and rotation of the African Pole. The project will contribute to the global network of space geodetic systems, aiding in the understanding of the global reference frame and Earth’s tectonic activities.
Furthermore, Dodo explained that the VLBI project has the capability to track satellites and monitor space missions. This feature enhances Nigeria’s involvement in space-related activities and strengthens its position in the international scientific community.
The leader of the visiting SHAO team, Prof. Jingling Li provided an overview of the observatory’s activities, which operate under the auspices of the Chinese Academy of Science. Li expressed the team’s willingness to collaborate with NASRDA through the CGG. He assured that the necessary materials for the project are ready in China and would be shipped to Nigeria promptly.
Li promised that the VLBI project would be executed efficiently to provide real-time data that will aid in the effective planning, monitoring and implementation of people-oriented policies and programmes in Nigeria. This collaboration between NASRDA and SHAO holds great promise for advancing Nigeria’s space research and development capabilities while contributing to global scientific endeavours.