Nigerian Communication Satellite (NigComSat) is to procure from the Chinese two satellites to capture the local and African markets.
Communication Minister Adebayo Shittu broke the news to State House correspondents after meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
According to him, the China EXIM Bank is to pay the nation’s counterpart funding for the satellite .
The construction of the satellites will take two years. It will begin immediately the papers are signed by both parties.
Shittu said: “NICOMSAT is one of our agencies where we hope to procure two new satellites from China. Initially the agreement was that they will provide the cost of the two satellites, $550 million minus 15 per cent, which is the counterpart funding. Because we could not afford this 15 percent, we have renegotiated with the China EXIM Bank and the China Great Walls who are the manufacturers and they have happily agreed to pay the entire $550 million to procure two new satellites.
“The two new ones will ensure that the Nigerian satellite company, which is NICOMSAT, can conquer the entire African continent in regard to the provision of satellite communication services. This is a very big business opportunity and I am sure that the Chinese appreciate the potential market, which is so vast, and that is why they have agreed that even without our ability to contribute 15 per cent they are prepared to pay the entire sum of $550 million for the procurement of the two new satellites for Nigeria.”
Asked if the $550 million was a loan, the minister said it was not. “It will be equity participation of the Chinese company into our business. NICOMSAT is a limited liability company owned entirely by the Federal Government. So, they are paying that to finance these highly required facilities and we will agree on the percentage sharing. Of course, Nigeria has nothing to lose because we are not putting anything into it in terms of financial resources.”
On the President’s reaction to his presentation, Shittu said: “The President was excited and was not surprised because the Chinese are not just going to market our satellite to the entire African continent but also perhaps by legislation insists that all Nigerian entities must patronise the Nigerian satellite company rather going to Isreal, UK, US for satellite services. Now we can say by our local content policy we must patronize Nigeria.”