Reps consider law to compel patronage of Nigcomsat by MDAs

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The House of Representatives has asked the Committee on Information Communication Technology (ICT) to investigate the cause of non-patronage of the multibillion Nigeria Communications Satellite Limited (NigComSat). The resolution was reached following a motion that was moved by Honourable Danasabe Hosea, representing Gashaka, Kurmi and Sardauna Federal Constituency of Taraba state.

The Nigerian Tribune reports that in his motion entitled “Need to Investigate the Non Patronage of the Nigerian Communications Satellite Limited (NIGCOMSAT),” the lawmaker recalled how the federal government had contracted Kosmo – 3m Rocket from Russian Plesetsk Spaceport to launch its first Earth Observation Satellite, the Nigeria Sat-1 on September 17, 2003, at the cost of ₦30 million.

An IT Edge News investigation reveals that the legislators are considering a law that would make it unlawful for government ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) not to patronize Nigeria’s satellite companies.

A livid Hosea noted that Nigcomsat -1 communications satellite was launched in 2007 in China at the cost of ₦200 million, but failed in orbit in 2008 after running out of power, owing to an anomaly in its solar array. While Nigcomsat-IR was re-launched in 2011 at no extra cost, Nigeria Sat-2 and Nigeria Sat X satellites, built at a cost of $35 million were launched in the same year.

NigComSat -IR has a service life of at least 15 years and is designed to meet the needs of telecommunications, broadcasting, and broadband, security and other communications solutions within the African, European and Asian markets.

Hosea said that since 2003, the federal government had spent about ₦85 billion on these five Satellites which were meant to provide communication, data and satellite images for government agencies and the private sector with the aim of saving billions of foreign exchange and generating revenues estimated at $20 billion for the country.

He said the underutilization of the communication satellite was as a result of apathy of government agencies and private companies for local services which are always capable of offering same services as any other offshore service provider. The lure for foreign satellite service providers is undermining the country’s FOREX.

“The multi-billion naira communication satellites are under-utilized in space due to low patronage by government agencies and private companies which continue to spend money running into billions of Naira to procure satellite images from other service providers, services which Nigeria’s satellite could supply, thereby depleting our foreign reserves,” said Hosea.

He argued that government MDAs be mandated to patronize NigComSat Ltd and National Space Research and Development Agency (NASRDA)  which manages Nigeria low earth orbit (LEOs) satellites, as a way of conserving the billions of naira being expended unpatriotically.

“Nigcomsat IR has effective signal coverage of the entire country and the West African sub-region, and if federal and states government agencies are mandated to subscribe to Nigerian Communications Satellite Ltd for their satellite communication services and NASRDA for satellite images, the billions of naira being expended on these services abroad will be conserved”, he added.

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