More than ten African countries have indicated their desire to benefit from the operations of the yet-to-be launched Nigeria Communication Satellite, known as NIGCOMSAT-1, Director General of the National Space Research and Devel-opment Agency (NSRDA), Prof. Robert Boroffice, has said.

Speaking to newsmen in Abuja, the NSRDA boss disclosed that the countries were hoping to sign up to use the satellite for telecommunications carriage, navigation, television distribution, direct broadcasting systems (DBS), and digital broadband.

Among the countries that have so far made contact with the agency for possible deal on the facility, according to Boroffice, are Ivory Coast, Egypt, Togo, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Senegal, Tunisia and Benin Republic.

NIGCOMSAT-1, billed for launch in the last quarter of 2006, is a hybrid space satellite communication device designed to enhance telecommunications and real-time monitoring of facilities across the African continent and beyond.

Boroffice said these countries' show of interest was in response to an earlier call made by President Olusegun Obasanjo to African Heads of State to avail themselves of the opportunities offered by the new communication technology.

He disclosed that the agency has recently hosted a delegation from Burkina Faso and is making arrangement to sign Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with that country's radio station to be allocated a bandwidth on the satellite.

The NSRDA boss said the communication satellite is not meant to be operated on strict commercial basis, but to act as a facility that would unify Africa in its drive for information technology revolution. "The project is not designed as a pure commercial venture but one that would serve to unite Africa. It will save the continent some cost in the amount used in making trunk calls", he said. He, however, said NSRDA intends to maximise every opportunity at its disposal, including entering into commercial contracts that would earn funds for the agency, he said.

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