Launching African TV into orbit


Nigeria Communications Satellite Limited (NigComSat) recently launched a satellite into orbit. Dubbed the NigComSat 1R, it has a minimum service life of 15 years.
Previously Africa’s ICT penetration level was low compared with the rest of the world; the significance of this launch means that African technology and communications industries can now be on a par with the rest of the world. This satellite enables NigComSat to play a critical role in the provision of an ICT infrastructure for Nigeria and Africa and help to raise Africa’s Digital Opportunity Index (DOI) and its Digital Access Index (DAI).

The 1R satellite was constructed by China Great Wall Industry Corporation (CGWIC).
The Nigerian government is reportedly upbeat about the launch, which is expected to boost the broadcast industry as a signal carrier distributor for direct-to-home television content. Other players in the sector are expected to benefit from the launch.

Says NigComSat senior manager of Business Development Olufunke Fagbeja: “This is not Nigeria’s first launch into space as a remote sensing satellite was launched in 2003. The first communications satellite in Nigeria, and indeed sub-Saharan Africa, was launched in 2007.’

Fagbeja stresses that NigComSat, a government owned company with its head office in Abuja, was formed to ease satellite communication challenges in Nigeria while also creating downstream industries and employment.

“NigComSat targets a number of areas, among them the enhancement of national economic and social development and the modernisation of telecommunication and related technologies. Also NigComSat integrates Nigeria into the global telecoms environment to make telecoms services efficient, affordable, reliable and available to all,’ Fagbeja says.

She believes achieving these goals will result in increased access to ICT for citizens in the pursuance of the country’s Constitution. It will also see the provision of cost effective solutions for the nation’s ICT requirements and affordable access to information and communication for Nigerians and the continent.

A number of the company’s activities include the commercialisation of satellite resources through the procurement, management and operations of communications satellites. The company also provides, deploys and implements various solutions that include bandwidth leasing, communications satellite based applications such as Internet infrastructure, voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), telephony and wireless communications.

“NigComSat provides a wide array of products and services to end-users, while building and servicing networks and benchmarking international best practices in technology,’ says Fagbeja.

Among its objectives the company manages and operates a fleet of satellites to sustain its communication satellite business, which includes but is not limited to transponder leasing and telecommunications services, in particular direct to home transmission services.

NigComSat’s accompanying ground infrastructure includes two ground stations equipped with satellite control centres, network operations centres and teleports in Lagos and Abuja. In addition the company has built a direct to home (DTH) transmission facility and a micro-electronics centre, which provides vital components for ICT products and satellite services.

A synergy between NigComSat and Main One Cable Company is set to provide broadband services to the rest of Nigeria.

By Martin Chemhere

Screen Africa magazine – July 2012


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