Nigerian Satellite Begins Fall To Earth

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Nigerian Satellite Begins Fall To Earth

Postby Richard Akindele » Sat Nov 15, 2008 1:07 am

Nigeria's multi-million dollar communication satellite is spinning out of control just 18 months after launch. The Chinese built Nigcomsat at a cost to Nigeria of $340 million. It was expected to provide broadband Internet and communications for government agencies. The government says the situation is under control and the satellite is only experiencing power problems. Critics say the device was a white elephant project that was hurriedly executed by former president Olusegun Obasanjo.

http://www.voanews.com/english/Africa/2 ... -voa41.cfm
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Postby Richard Akindele » Sat Nov 15, 2008 1:24 am

Well, you get what you pay for.

When was the last time Made In China screamed of high quality?

When you want cheapo, you go to China. When you want reliable, you go to the USA, Germany, UK, Japan, etc.

Now that there's a potential of losing $340 million, wouldn't it have been better to spend twice as much for a quality product? If we add the cost of launching the satellite, getting it into orbit, and then the cost of maintaining it from the ground control facility, Nigeria easily must have spent a few trillion dollars.

Let this be a lesson to you Nigeria. Never buy half price on such vital interests. Always wait until your piggy bank is fuller before taking the step.
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The Nigcomsat Dilemma

Postby Richard Akindele » Sat Dec 27, 2008 12:10 am

I JUST read an opinion that tried to justify the recent loss of a Nigerian communications satellite and supports the government's continuance of the satellite programme in the Vanguard of 18th December 2008. I have read other similar opinions, including the one by Prof Borofice, the NIGCOMSAT DG. There have also been some opposing views.

The question I want to put to supporters of NIGCOMSAT is: Why is it that while the satellite was in orbit and supposedly operational we still had serious problems with bandwidth in the telecommunications sector.

In many countries today voice over internet protocol, which costs a fraction of GSM and CDMA has become the mode of choice, especially for long distance calls, but not in Nigeria, despite the investment in the satellite.

The opinion writer in the Vanguard believes that it is a blessing for Nigeria to be one of the 45 countries that has a satellite in space and one of the 17 that have more than one payload. In all those countries you can bet that they do not depend on foreign expertise to build their own roads, railways, power stations, refineries, satellites for that matter, etc and maintains same without foreign help. These countries have numerate populations.

Nigeria is still struggling with literacy, not to talk of numeracy, the universal backbone of technology. There is no time consciousness in our planning, both as individuals and as a nation. In the nation's schools and colleges technical education is at a low ebb and those that manage to graduate have no industry waiting to take them. Most Nigerians who have global competences in technical fields such as aviation, aerospace, shipping, medicine, etc are working in foreign countries.

We have great difficulty doing basic services such as patching potholes on our roads, laying out streets neatly, lighting up streets at night, disposing of refuse, getting the Police to scene of crime on time. In Nigeria, a building demolition is national news, with the governor in attendance, clearing our imported goods from the ports.

These are matters that require elementary precision. You do not have to be an Einstein to perform them efficiently and they are taken for granted in other countries but Nigeria has proved itself congenitally incompetent in doing them.

A communication firm has just bought units of very bulky outside broadcast equipment that are probably army surplus and it is big news and is being advertised as a major step forward. Building a road, an airport or expanding an existing one is a big deal that comes with much political fanfare, rather than as part of routine progressive development of infrastructure.

We hire foreigners to investigate air disasters and bomb blasts in a munitions depot and afterwards are too embarrassed to make the investigation reports public. To be talking about launching satellites when we cannot guarantee eight hours of electricity supply to our homes, factories and industries is to say the least a little far-fetched and something of a luxury. I suspect that the writer in Vanguard must have mistaken mockery by his foreign friends for congratulations, else he was being economical with the truth.

.I have nothing against Professor Borofice's efforts to launch Nigeria into the space age. By all means he should continue his research and keep hope alive but it will be wrong for him to think that political support alone is all he needs to succeed in the satellite programme.

The universal approach would be that such things will evolve naturally and sustainably with the progressive advancement of the society as a whole. He should avoid the sociological trap into which many a Nigerian tend to fall: Once they find themselves at the upper reaches of the social and/or professional pyramid they tend to allow themselves to disconnect with the general population at the lower parts, making it possible to live in an elite dreamworld that has no bearing with reality.

Normally a space programme is something that should galvanize the public and inspire the youth scientifically but, of course, the bulk of Nigerians are too busy trying to survive to care. The few who know think of the project team more as cranks than as people engaged in a serious endavour. However one looks at it the loss of the satellite is not reassuring, especially given the country's circumstances and also given the questions of transparency that are being asked about the project. There are good grounds for reservations and skepticism about the satellite project.

•Lt. Col. Egbe-Ulu(rtd) writes from Lagos.
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Postby Richard Akindele » Sat Dec 27, 2008 12:43 am

Talk of putting the cart before the horse. You have articulated brilliantly, the same sentiments that I've communicated to fellow Nigerians constantly.

There is no shortage of expertise among Nigerians that could be utilized in building and maintaining technology in Nigeria. We're just not using our own resources.

Case in point, the head of police recently was quoted as saying that he did not have a clue how many police officers there are in Nigeria. In the age of free Linux, and server hardware that is ever decreasing in prices, what is the reason that the Police does not have a database of its officers?

As a programmer, I can write secure software in a few weeks that can be deployed over the Internet. Every Police officer in the country can then access the website from anywhere and register. Essentially, the entire statistics could be gathered in a matter of weeks.

Furthermore, the server that such an application would sit on can be built for as little as $600. All in all, an investment of as little as a few thousand dollars would take the police from "paper age" to full electronic age.

The Nigerian government could certainly afford a few thousand dollars for such a project. In fact, I would think that Nigeria already has servers that could run such an application. Why then aren't we doing it? Is it ignorance? Is it apathy? Or could it be a ploy on the part of the leaders to keep the country where it is, to avoid empowering the people?

This is just one example of simple things the government could begin to embark on, to gradually build the country up. Nigerians are the most educated group in the USA. What country is all that knowledge building up, well, America of course. Why not Nigeria?
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