Nigcomsat finds it difficult to play in the big boys’ courtyard, says its CEO


NigComSat’s CEO Engr. T. Ahmed Rufai revealed that it was having difficulty penetrating its home market, Nigeria and reaching its wider African marketing goals.

NigComSat’s initial feasibility research showed that African countries were paying US$900 million to international satellite operators, of which Nigeria’s share was about US$100 million. His point was that these were payments that left the continent in hard currency. Global satellite sales were a massive US$62 billion, of which Africa was only US$1.2 billion.

NigComSat was proposed as a bold answer to these problems but as Rufai admitted, it was having difficulty cracking its core market, Nigeria. Whilst muttering darkly about

“the politics of satellite business which is like a cult accessed only by the elite players in the club”, he admitted:"I don't think we have up to 10 per cent of the Nigerian market. We got the biggest challenge from quarters we thought would have supported the vision we have. We were also misunderstood. The project was seen as a critical IT infrastructure to bridge the digital divide. We have not been able to capture the market as planned originally." It is a far cry from the 50 per cent of the African market which NigComSat promoters had originally stated in their business plan.

Leaving aside his allegations of unfair competition and poor marketing, what CEO Rufai may not have been able to admit was that customers in Nigeria in the private sector would probably go a long way to avoid placing themselves in the hands of a Nigerian state-run company. For an intervention like NigComSat to be successful, it has to have the trust and confidence of the market it is serving.