By Bukola Olanrewaju
Nigeria is set to procure two new satellites following an agreement with China Exim Bank and manufacturer China Great Wall totalling N168 billion.
Nigeria has had a few satellites launched into space, but had limited capacity which left some technology companies seeking satellite services overseas.
The new two satellites agreement came after Nigeria renegotiated an earlier deal which required it to front 15 percent of the satellites’ cost — now, the country isn’t paying anything for it.
According to Minister of Communication, Adebayo Shittu, “This is a very big business opportunity which is why they have agreed that even without our ability to contribute 15 percent they are prepared to pay the entire sum of $550 million for the procurement of the two new satellites for Nigeria,”
He said the satellites will be launched after a two-year production period starting from when the paperwork is signed.
The minister said the funds were not a loan but the Chinese company will take an equity stake in Nigcomsat, a limited liability company owned by the Nigerian government and responsible for managing satellite communications.
Both parties will agree on a percentage share, Shittu said, adding that Nigeria “has nothing to lose because we are not putting anything into it in terms of financial resources.”
Shittu said the Chinese would help market satellite communication services to other African countries which would compete with current providers from Israel, Britain and the United States.
The minister said that two satellites will be ready in two years after the signing of the agreement by the end of 2018.
“The first thing is that we want to make a profit, we want to capture the local market and we also want to capture the African market,” he said.