By Jimson Olufuye
That Information and Communications Technology (ICT) is transforming the way we live, work, play, study and learn is no longer news. What is news is how nations are deploying huge financial resources and using available technologies particularly satellite technologies to deepen ICT penetration for their citizens in the remote and interior areas, says Jimson Olufuye, CEO Kontemporary Konsulting based in Nigeria. In Nigeria about 52% of citizens live in the rural areas. Information is referred to as processed data available as useful output.
According to WITSA Digital Planet, the ICT industry is worth over US$4trillion. It is mainly composed of four technology categories namely Computer Hardware:13%; Computer Software: 9%; Computer Services: 20%; and Communications: 58%.
By the late 1990s, international development organisations such as the World Bank indicated based on studies that ICTs have direct impact directly on the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of any nation and the potential of taking people out of poverty.
Following this strong viewpoint, the United Nations (UN) began moves to convene a global summit to address the window ICT brings to bear in development. By the year 2000, the UN had already hosted the Millennium Summit in which leaders of 192 nations of the world committed themselves to certain goals called the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The aim of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) is to encourage development by improving social and economic conditions in the world’s poorest countries.
Therefore, the WSIS targets a global Information Society by 2015 when all persons, entities, governments, schools, health centres etc are connected for seamless information sharing and wealth creation thereby fulfilling the MDG goals.
Close to a third of the world population (30.1%) are now on the Internet (>2billion) and more than three-quarter (5.28billion:76.5%) on mobile subscription. In addition, social media (many to many broadcasting) is transforming socio-political order.
Of the global Internet penetration of 30.1%, 5.7% (118m) are in Africa. Nigeria’s Internet penetration of 40% in Africa has put Nigeria on top of African Internet users list. Also, Africa’s broadband penetration is about 3.8%. Nigeria’s broadband access is about 6%. With more than 20tb fibre ring across Africa, the figure will rise; and with NigComSat-1R the figure will surely rise…
The question remains that how are our people in the remote areas, over 52% expected to be part of the impending IS? Of course, the digital gulf is more pronounced there. Therefore, Nigeria MUST do everything possible to escape the digital gulf as quickly as possible with complimentary Satellite solutions as broadband access can easily be achieved over CS infrastructure.
In my view, Nigeria needs the Communications Satellite to address the digital gulf challenge and connect our remote population, connect more people to broadband internet, transform education and research & development, build local content eApplications and establish our cultural identity on the Internet and increase Nigeria’s economic & technological competitiveness. In addition, Communications Satellite will help Nigeria achieve 2015 WSIS & Vision 20 2020
A significant segment of our Communications Satellite bandwidth should be allocated as critical intervention to our universities for research and development and massive development of local content which is extremely important and key to our identity and preservation of our culture in the Information Society.
In 2003, Nigeria launched her 1st Satellite in Russia (Nigeriasat-1). It was part of the world-wide Disaster Monitoring Constellation System. The primary objectives of the Nigeriasat-1 were: to give early warning signals of environmental disaster, to help detect and control desertification in the northern part of Nigeria.
and to assist in demographic planning. It has been proved that in order to establish the relationship between malaria vectors and the environment that breeds malaria and to give early warning signals on future outbreaks of meningitis using remote sensing technology. The remote sensing satellite could also aid in conflict resolution and border disputes by mapping out state and International borders. The Nigeriasat-2, the replacement of Nigeriasat-1 is now in operation.
Also, Nigcomsat-1R, the replacement of the deorbited Nigcomsat-1 launched in 2007 in China has also been launched at no cost to Nigeria to provide the technology needed to bring education to all parts of the country through distant learning. It was based on the Chinese DFH-4 satellite bus, and carries a variety of transponders: its specifications include 4 C-band, 14 Ku-band, 8 Ka-band and 2 L-band.
Several other nations of the world have also launched their communications satellite to support their quest for social economic development. Among these nations are South Korea (1st launch 1992; 12 Communications Satellite deployed; Malaysia (1st launch 1996; 4 Communications Satellite deployed; Singapore (1st launch 1998; 2 Communications Satellite deployed; Egypt (1st launch 1998; 3 Communications Satellite deployed; Taiwan (1st launch 1999; 9 Communications Satellite deployed; South Africa (1st launch 1999; 2 Communications Satellite deployed; Morocco (1st launch 2001; 1 Communications Satellite deployed; Algeria (1st launch 2002; 1 Communications Satellite deployed.
From the foregoing, if you’re asked the question: Do we Really need a Communications Satellite in Africa? The answer should be yes, of course. WE DO!
But from the above, the issue is beyond just having a Communications Satellite. What we use it to do matters a great deal and how we sustain it and keep it working for the duration of its life cycle (~15years) are very important? While there is great enthusiasm for our new functional Communications Satellite, the challenge of appropriate use for business continuity is critical. Therefore, plans should be commenced as soon as possible for Nigcomsat-2.
Our Security forces should be involved in this venture to meet our long term security need. In fact, they should be involved already based on the mandate of the National Space Research and Development Agency, NASRDA.
Let us not forget that leading nations are spending big on their satellite projects and they do it for results. We too, as we spend big MUST have our sight on the results which should be nothing more than boosting the socio-economic and security well being of our people.
I wholeheartedly therefore assert that we need the Communications Satellite and further support our venture into space.