Nigeria’s President, Mohammadu Buhari has granted approval to the country’s Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy to purchase and launch new satellites into space.

The country’s minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Prof. Isa Ali Pantami who announced this on Monday during a one-day working visit and interaction with the staff of the Nigerian Communications Satellite (NigComSat) in Abuja said he has also gone ahead to lobby the Minister of Finance to ensure that this is included in the 2022 Budget.

Panatami’s announcement is a confirmation of similar one made by NigComSat’s Managing Director, Dr. Abimbola Alale, who, during the 2021 edition of the NIGCOMSAT Stakeholders Forum held in September in Lagos disclosed that the Communications Satellite body was set to launch two new satellites, NigComSat-2 and NigComSat-3 by 2023 and 2025 respectively. The two satellites will replace NigComSat 1R, which was launched in 2011 with a life span of 15 that would elapse in the next four years.

Though the Minister did not disclose the amount approved for the new satellite projects, Nigerian Newspaper, Vanguard reports that the Federal government earmarked the sum of N2.5 billion for the Satellite 2 project in the 2022 budget estimate.

This is sequel to reports that the Federal government of Nigeria had in 2017 announced plans to raise $550m required for the construction of two new communications satellites for Nigeria. According to the report, the fund is to be provided by the Chinese Export and Import Bank accepted to provide.

Meanwhile, the minister said he has approved the establishment of some subsidiaries under NIGCOMSAT, as part of the ongoing efforts intended to make the institution more productive.

“I have secured the approval of Mr President for purchasing another Satellite. I went further to lobby the Minister of Finance to ensure that this is included in the 2022 budget. I have also approved the establishment of some subsidiaries under NIGCOMSAT as part of efforts to revive the company  and make it innovative and productive,” the minister said.

Pantami, who demanded more innovation from NigComSat said, “You need to be customer-centric, discover the failure of services before they realize it, fix the problem and come up with innovative ideas. The innovation in the agency is not enough and needs to be improved upon.”

Continuing, he told the space agency’s staff to change their perception, adding that they are not part of core civil servants, but a company that is faced with impending competitions by other enterprises willing to offer similar services in the country.

“There are other companies that are ready to come up and start providing similar services with you. The efforts made to stop privatization of NIGCOMSAT is for the good of the company and for the good of the country. You need to turn things around through the Unique and effective service you are able to provide and revenue you generate for government. It is a difficult task to revive an institution and make it very successful, that you must make. The challenge of reviving NIGCOMSAT is not just a necessity but an obligation for all the staff,” Pantami said.

Earlier in her address to welcome the Minister to the facility, the Managing Director of NIGCOMSAT, Dr Alale said the coming of the Minister has raised the hope and confidence of the staff and management of the agency through his unprecedented support and increase in yearly budgetary allocation.

She expressed delight for the support being given to the agency by the Minister and assured him that her staff would take up the new challenge and ensure that they deliver on the mandate given by the Minister.

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