Nigcomsat-1 is 65 Percent Ready, Says Rufai

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The replacement of the failed Nigerian Communications Satellite (NigComSat-1) is 65 per cent near completion, the Managing Director and Chief Executive, Nigerian Communications Satellite Limited, Engineer Ahmed Rufai, has said.

Ahmed, who disclosed this at a media parley at the weekend in Lagos, explained that the failure of the satellite is a normal occurrence in the industry. He stated that the satellite should be ready by next year.

NigComSat-1 had failed in the orbit after running out of power due to an anomaly in its solar array in November 11, 2008. The satellite, which was launched on May 13, 2007, became the first African geosynchronous communication satellite.

But Rufai argued that despite the setback which the satellite had suffered, it had been covered with an insurance policy worth $46 billion.

"As at today, we have achieved 65 per cent of the repair of its replacement and by this time next year, it would be ready.

That NigComSat-1 failed is traditional in the industry. It is just like when you say a car failed. Prior to that, our satellite was at par with any satellite in the world. The NigComSat is a programme and not a project and the NigComSat-1 is a sub-sect of our programme," he explained.

He stressed that the Nigcomsat project is a foundation necessary for building a knowledge economy.

According to him, a major objective of the satellite programme is to ensure that the country becomes part of the global information super highway, as against its current import-oriented strategy.He emphasised that it is sad that Nigeria is a consuming nation.

Rufai stressed that with effective communications facilities such as the Nigcomsat-1, there would be job creation opportunities for the country's largely unemployed population. He emphasised that for the Federal Government Vision 20:2020 to be achievable, it must be anchored on effective and efficient communication systems.

He argued: "If we are going to have an efficient and effective rail system, it is communication. In today's world, there is nothing you can do without communication. We would be deceiving ourselves on Vision 20:2020 if there is no serious development on communication. The key issue is that disconnection in communication among the people. And that is one of the objectives of the Nigcomsat."

"That an operator is building its own backbone is not normal. By the time you have all these backbones all over the nation, it would not augur well for the nation in terms of security because it exposes the country to danger. Again, it is the consumer that all these cost would be passed on to," he said.

Rufai insisted that the policy that allows operators in the industry to create private fibre optic is not healthy for the country. The Nicomsat boss who lamented the poor information communication technology penetration in the country, revealed that the country has dropped to 99th position in the current communication Global Competitive Index, as against the 88th position it occupied in 2006.