The planned satellites include NigcomSat-1R which is the replacement for the NigcomSat-1 that was de-orbited in 2008 for technical reasons, NigcomSat-2 and NigcomSat-3.
AficaSTI learnt that NigcomSat-1R will now be launched on 25th December 2011 having missed the previously planned July 2011 launch date while NigcomSat-2 will go into orbit a year later.
Nigeria’s minister of science and technology, Prof. Ita Bassey Ewa said at a stakeholder’s conference in Abuja that “With the launch of the satellites, there will be opportunities for new business development and growth in Africa.
The satellites will also improve the quality of life as a result of its applications in broadcasting, telephony, remote monitoring and public security and safety.”
Ewa said that Nigeria alone was spending over $450 million annually on the importation of bandwidth from Europe and America to facilitate internet access, telephony and broadcasting.
“With the launch of Nigerian owned communication satellites, the revenue made from Nigeria and Africa in general on bandwidth by other countries will be retained on the continent and used for development,” he added.
The minister noted that the continent was experiencing a huge demand for bandwidth as it attempts to make a shift towards an information society.
“The market of Europe and North America are more saturated while Africa offers a new and virtually untapped market,” he said.
Speaking at the conference, Ernest Ndukwe, former executive vice chairman of the Nigeria Communications Commission said that “Nigerian companies are paying relatively high broadband charges for satellite links and this charges have remained high in spite of the huge demand,” he said.
Ndukwe, who now lectures at the Lagos Business School, said that Nigeria, with a 90.5 million active subscriber lines and over 63 per cent tele-density, has the largest telecommunication market in Africa and accounts for 16 per cent of total mobile phone users on the continent.
“Nigeria belongs to the 10 fastest developing economies of the world in terms of mobile connections. It is also on record that Nigeria deployed 3G network ahead of countries such as China, and India..Access to communication facilities is within easy reach” Ndukwe said.
“Only 10 million Nigerians have television sets as compared to over 100 million mobile phones in use in the country,” he added.