Sat-X At Three: NASRDA, Kogi State In New Venture

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Both sides in a seminal land survey accord, between the National Space Research and Development Agency (NASRDA) and the Kogi State Government, has termed it a “turning point” in Nigeria’s ongoing effort to commercialize its satellite services.

Speaking to The Guardian, at a ceremony to commemorate the August 2011 launch of NigeriaSat-X, Steven Shaibu Mayaki, Commissioner of Lands, Housing and Urban Development, predicted that the 18-month collaboration would set an historic precedent, for other states to follow.

“This is an entirely new departure for NASRDA,” Mayaki said. “They’ve not done this type of thing before. But we are laying the groundwork. If the project is successful, the Space Agency can then apply the system to other states”.

In an exclusive interview, Mayaki noted that negotiations with NASRDA started six months ago, on the development of a GIS (Geographic Information System), to produce detailed maps, covering the whole of Kogi State.

“We were searching for vendors,” the Commissioner recounted. “But after assessing the capabilities of NASRDA, we decided to stick with an indigenous company that can offer us the same technology and expertise we would get anywhere else”.

Mayaki said the Ministry would use satellite images to provide maps of all towns and to delineate boundaries for every plot, so the state government can issue each owner a title. This will improve land transactions and, at the same time, generate revenue.

The director general, Professor Seidu Onailo Mohammed, told The Guardian that NASRDA’S commercial arm, GEOAPPS-Plus (which markets remote sensing products, such as satellite-generated images and statistical data),would execute the project.

Mohammed described the Kogi State accord, as “an important threshold” in the application of satellite technology, to revenue-generating and socio-economic development tasks.

“To be sure,” he added, “there are other important thresholds to cross. But this collaboration is crucial. The Kogi State Government has laid the foundation; and we intend to build on it”.

 During the low-keyed Anniversary ceremony, Mohammed reiterated his team’s commitment to the vision of the Space Road Map, which calls for the building of an indigenous satellite.

“But while we are determined to achieve the objectives of the Road Map,” he asserted, “I must tell you that building an indigenous satellite is not enough. We must struggle to master space technology”.

Held at NASRDA’s Abuja headquarters, the ceremony marked the third year in orbit of Nigeria Sat-X, an Earth observation satellite, which Nigerian engineers built in the U.K.

Dr. Ndubuisi  Ekekwe, the Pittsburgh Pennsylvania (U.S.A.)-based Guest Lecturer, also emphasized the urgency of mastering space technology and agreed that Nigeria should build its own satellite.

But he stressed the importance of private capital, counseling a nearly full house at the Boroffice Conference Centre, that “Science has no impact until money comes in”.

Only through satellite-based entrepreneurship, he insisted, can Nigeria become a competitive participant in the burgeoning space and technology-driven global economy.

Ekekwe thus suggested that his company, First Atlantic Semiconductors and Microelectronics (FASMICRO), and NASRDA team up “to see how we can produce satellites in this country”.

In a subsequent interview, the FASMICRO Chairman said he was exploring ways of using his company’s connections and expertise to bring in partners and “accelerate the vision of Nigeria being a leader in the African space industry”.

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