31 January 2013

Nigeria: NigComSat-1R's Performance Rated Below Expectations

Nigeria's Communications Satellite, NigComSat-1R that was re- launched into space in December 2011 is yet to make significant impact in the lives of the people and the nation's economy, experts in the Information and Communications Technology industry have said.

NigComSat-1R, is a replacement for NigComSat-1, which was successfully launched in 2007 but de-orbited barely a year after due to a malfunction of Solar Array Deployment Assembly ( SADA).

President of the Nigerian Internet Group, a non-profit organisation, committed to the promotion of the Internet in Nigeria, Mr. Bayo Banjo, who spoke to THISDAY was of the opinion that the communications satellite had performed below expectations 13 months after it was re-launched into the orbit.

"In practice and in real terms, I have not heard of any impact NigComSat-1R has made or any really serious customer it has. In short, I can see no real impact at all, can you?" Banjo said.

Stating that he had personally not been able to get a definite quote on any of the supposed services offered by the communications satellite, he said: "From the way the satellite is being handled, one wonders what the satellite's real purpose is."

According to him, it is an embarrassing failure as it has not brought services to the people vis-à-vis the amount of money spent on the satellite.

"The company must work to offer cost effective solution and affordable access to meet Nigeria's telecommunications, broadcast, aviation, maritime, defense and security needs, vis-à-vis what has been spent on its supposed services," he added.

Speaking in the same vein, President of the Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria (ATCON) Mr. Lanre Ajayi, stated that the communications satellite, which is a critical ICT backbone infrastructure, is expected to support the growth of the nations' broadcast and telecoms industry and aid in the crucial achievement of Nigeria's vision 20:2020.

Ajayi, who stated that although his perception might not be the reality said: "I've really not seen many people who have told me that they use NigComSat 1R capacity to run their businesses. NigComSat will be in a better position to give the details and tell how many subscribers they have, what capacity they have deplored and what percentage of interest they have made. But in my own opinion as an expert, I see nothing been done with the capacity."

When THISDAY contacted NigComSat's Head of Communications, Mr. Sonny Aragba-Akpore, said he accepted that the purpose of the satellite was still in the process of being achieved.

"This is one year after the launch of the satellite. The satellite has an average life-span of 15 years," he said.

He added that the satellite's journey had just started towards achieving the objectives of setting it up.

The objectives, he said, include to bridge the digital divide between Nigeria and other developed countries and to utilise the resources of the satellite for the socio-economic benefit of the nation through access to information technology and penetration of all unserved and under-served areas.

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