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By Samuel Hinneh
Nigeria's Satellite in Abuja
Nigeria's Satellite in Abuja
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The National Space Research and Development Agency (NASRDA) of Nigeria, the fore front of space science, particularly satellite technology, in the West Africa sub region says it will collaborate with Ghana in space science technology to provide vital information for socio economic development in both countries.

The Director General of the NASRDA Mr Seidu Onailo Mohammed said the decision of the government of Ghana to establish the Ghana Space Centre is a step that will enable Ghana tackle socio-economic issues such as flood, food insecurity among others.

“Ghana and Nigeria need to work together, the world cannot wait for us, use the technology to provide vital information for our people in area of food production, water resource development, and communication to help us develop'', he stated.

Mr Mohammed made these known in an interview during a tour of the NASRDA facility in Abuja, Nigeria by a group of science journalists from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) region namely Nigeria, Benin and Ghana. The tour was organised by the Nigerian Association of Science Journalists (NASJ) as part of the capacity building programme during the association's International Annual Science Communication Conference. The international conference was on the theme 'The role of Science Technology and Innovation Emerging Economies'.

Mr Mohammed says from the beginning, the agency can support Ghana with 3D images that are currently available in their archives. The images help in many ways such as determining areas of disaster including floods, assisting in finding areas where precision agriculture can be done, photos of different cities and airports, among others.

He added that some of the Ghanaian engineers and scientists will also be offered the opportunity to visit Nigeria's centre, emphasising “the culture are similar and understanding is quicker being attached to some of our facilities to see how we do it to replicate the same thing in Ghana''.

He says there are over 200 million GSM lines in the whole of West Africa, which is enough market already for business men in West Africa to come together to provide this key backbone which is the communication satellite.

“This is exactly what our interest is , Our people should be able to do that at home rather than a battling ground for foreign companies, for too long we have done that and it is time to look inward, forget about any barrier, so that we can work together''.

With a Communication Satellite in place, Tariffs on GSM Phone Services as well as tariffs on Satellite Television Broadcasting Services will be reduced, it will also link the rural areas with telephone services and promote E-Commerce and E-Government.

He welcomed the Ghana Space Centre into to the African Leadership in Space, and said Ghana will be hosting the next meeting next year .

The functions of the NASRDA include to develop satellite technology for various applications and operationalize indigenous space system for providing space services and shall be the government's Agency charged with the responsibility for building and launching satellites; be the repository of all satellites data over Nigeria's territory and accordingly, all collaborations and consultations in space data related matters in Nigeria shall be carried out or undertaken by or with the Agency.

The other functions are to promote the coordination of space application programmes for the purpose of optimising resources and develop space technologies of direct relevance to National objectives; encourage capacity building in space science technology development and management, thereby strengthening human resources development required for the implementation of the space programmes and review the national policy on space including long range goals and develop a strategy for national space issues.

Nigeria launched its NigeriaSat-2 and NigeriaSat-X in August 2011 as part of the Satellite Development Programme. The major application areas are to enhance Precision Agriculture to tackle food insecurity, support Nigerian Peace Missions all over the world with information, Urban Mapping to improve settlement in the urban centres, disaster monitoring and management such as floods, as well as National Security Applications. Also the programme saved Nigeria a huge amount of money (2 billion Naira) spent on high resolution satellite imagery annually.

The Ghana Space Science and Technology Centre is basically set up to develop and coordinate programmes in space science and technology for the socio-economic development of the country.

By its vision, the centre is expected to uncover and exploit the capabilities of science and technology for national socio-economic and technological development through cutting-edge research,

It is also to establish a centre of excellence in space science and technology, to foster teaching and learning as well as the commercial application of space research, for the economic transformation of Ghana and West Africa.

The centre will focus on the coordination of implementation of projects and programmes in areas including remote sensing and geographic information systems, meteorology, astronomy and astrophysics, communication as well as human capacity development.

With these objectives any collaboration with the National Space Research and Development Agency (NASRDA) of Nigeria will offer the centre immense benefits in terms of expertise from their Nigerian engineers and scientists. This is because a -25 year road map for the Nigeria Space Programme will begin the training of Nigerian Astronauts in 2015, development and building of made in Nigeria Satellites in 2018, development of rocketry/propulsion system (2025), spin-off of Allied Industries-electronics, softwares, etc (2026). The rest are large scale commercialisation of space technology and know-how (2028), and launch of Nigerian Satellites from Nigerian launch pad (2030).

By Samuel Hinneh {Back from Abuja, Nigeria; Courtesy Nigeria Association of Science Journalists}

Disclaimer: "The views/contents expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of Samuel Hinneh and do not necessarily reflect those of The Nigerian Voice. The Nigerian Voice will not be responsible or liable for any inaccurate or incorrect statements contained in this article."