Nigeria’s federal government has separated the National Space Research and Development Agency (NASRDA) and Nigeria Communication Satellites Limited (NigComSat), the two public owned agencies that have been locked in a bitter turf fight over the country’s satellite operations.
NigcomSat has now been transferred to the newly created ministry of communications technology while NARSDA remains in their parent ministry of science and technology.
The government in a memo entitled “mandates and responsibilities of ministries” issued by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Anyim Pius Anyim, with official number 59386/IV/760, dated 15th August, 2011directs both agencies to be strictly limited to their statutory functions.
NASRDA is Nigeria’s pioneering agency charged with the responsibility of coordinating and implementing the Nigeria space ambition.
Three years after it was established, NASRDA took Nigeria to space with the launch of the NigeriaSat-1, an earth observation satellite launched into orbit in 2001famous for being the first satellite to capture images of Hurricane Katrina.
Following the successes recorded with the NigeriaSat-1, NASRDA with funding from government went ahead to expand Nigeria space plans from earth observation to include communications.
A contract between Nigeria and the China Great Wall Industry in 2004 set the stage for the design and building of Nigerian communication satellite code-named NigComSat-1.
NASRDA presided over the design, building and launch of NigComSat-1 but after the launch, the federal government incorporated NigComSat Limited as a business venture in 2006 to manage and operate the communications satellite.
NASRDA ceded the project team for the communication satellite to NigComSat Ltd as they formed the core of those to operate the new venture.
NigComSat Limited on its part has the responsibility for the operation and management of Nigerian communication satellites with the mission of “managing and exploiting the commercial viability of the Nigerian communications satellite for the socio-economic benefit of the nation.”
Personality clash at the leadership level however marred the relationship between the two agencies.
Speaking on the development, Sunny Akpore, NigComSat, Head, corporate communication said the movement to the new communication technology was a routine affair adding that other five agencies of government were also affected in the movement.