Dr. Halilu Ahmad Shaba: Building a Space Sector of the Nigerian Dream

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Space technologies are essential to support our national dreams and aspirations. We have therefore no choice as a country to make recourse to space as a new frontier in our quest to be a respectable member of the international community of developed nation.

Space is today a veritable sector of the economy contributing to the economic well being of many nations all over the world and Nigeria must not be left even though many of our peers have left us far behind in the space exploration and development journey. It is better late than never.

Since Nigeria committed to the exploration of space and its developments some years back, investing in space assets, it has served the Nigerian governments and its governmental departments by strengthening our national sovereignty, safety, security, resource management, and environmental monitoring capabilities.

We are lucky today that we have the credit of having an astute and responsive leadership resources leading the way in the pursuit of our national space and technology quest and dreams.

Since his appointment as the director-general of the National Space Research and Development Agency (NASRDA), Dr. Halilu Ahmad Shaba has been working assiduously to salvage the Nigerian dream in the space and technology field putting together policies and programmes conceptualized to give us the driving vitality to make this dream a reality.

He is quietly building the Nigerian space dream into reality. His dream visualized into priorities for our space sector is one that he is working on to establish a world-class reputation in many areas such earth observation, space robotics, space science, and exploration and communications and its innovations into emerging capabilities.

This dream also involves a space sector with government investments they will lead to the developments and contributes to the NASA-Lunar gateway which will be a cornerstone of Nigeria’s new space strategy. This envisaged gateway would be one that would be able to perform repairs,and maintenance work and conduct science without the presence of an astronaut.

A Nigerian government investments in support for a new Lunar Exploration Accelerator Programme (LEAP) that would help small and medium sized businesses in the country develop new technologies for use and testing in Lunar orbits and on the moon’s surface in fields like artificial intelligence, robotics, and health.

Exploration, Imagination, Innovation: A New Space Strategy Proposed for Nigeria.

The appointment of Dr. Halilu Shaba has signalled to all watchers of the Nigerian space sector a systematic and pragmatic leap in our country’s space sector priorities and it signalled a new quest by the Buhari administration’s space mandates.

The Director-General has been commended severally by both space analyst and watchers for signalling the need for a new released Exploration, Imagination and Innovation which is a new space strategy for the country.

This strategy which we advice must recognize space as an asset for Nigeria, where all governments needs to work together in the country so that Nigerians can rely on space to help meet national needs. This strategy should aim to leverage Nigeria’s strengths like robotics and advance science and innovations in exciting areas such as artificial intelligence (AI) and biometrical technologies.

A strategy that places priorities on applying this innovations to solve important challenges in the country such as improving access to broadband services, protecting the country’s sovereignty through space-based defense assets and the improving of health care services in remote communities by leveraging space medicine.

Today through the Director-General of NASRDA, Dr. Hallilu Shaba, the agency strategy is expected to strengthen our country’s capacity to keep pace with the international new space economy through its supports for innovative space firms through regulations modernization, allowing them to grow and strive both in the country and abroad.

NASRDA should through this envisaged new space strategy outlines how the governments of Nigeria will position her commercial space sector to take full advantage of the growing space economy through programming such as innovations, science and economic development (ISED), a new Nigerian Strategic Innovation Fund(SIF), and the Nigerian Industrial and Technology Development Benefit Policy (ITB).

We dream of a Nigerian space sector under the new management of NASRDA, ably led by Dr. Hallilu Shaba that is highly innovative and directly employs millions of Nigerians. A space sector that generates a lot of revenues for the country’s economy. A space sector that is composed of more than 200 organization, which consists of firms, universities and research centres.

Research and developments intensity for manufacturing in the space sector that is 11 times higher than the average for manufacturing in the country. A space sector that 94% of it’s space companies are SME’s and accounts for 43% of the country’s space sector’s revenues. A Nigerian space sector that has the strength in space system manufacturing in areas such as robotics, satellites communications, earth observations and data systems.

A country that invests in innovations and skills plan by governments which would translate to supports for the Nigerian space sector through the SIF programme. A country that invests in space related projects that will strengthen and develop the space sector and this investments should include but not limited to;

*The funding and investment in real-time satellites Automatic Identification System(AIS) services for tracking of ships.

*Developments of advanced satellites broadband network that will improve the performance of satellite communications systems.

*Investments funding of a new efficient, and effective way to protect space assets by tracking space debris etc.

A Nigerian space sector that her organisations are internationally recognized and renowned for their leading-edge technologies. With the support of NASRDA, a Nigerian space organisation that would be able to develop long-standing relationships with prime contractors and space-faring nations. This is achievable under the able leadership of Dr. Halilu Shaba at the helm of the NASRDA because we trust that his dreams for the Nigerian space industry will translate into the development of our national space policies, priorities and strategies to take us there.

He has the leadership qualities and vision to translate into reality to take us to the promise land of national economic development through space activities and he will.

– Musa Wada writes from Abuja.

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