Nigeria Reverses Plan to Privatise NigComSat

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Adebayo Shittu
Shittu

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The Nigerian government is no longer interested in the privatisation of NigComsat which past administration of President Goodluck Jonathan said it will do by 2018

By Anayo Ezugwu  |  Feb 29, 2016 @ 01:00 GMT  |

ADEBAYO Shittu, minister of communications, has assured Nigerians that the federal government will not continue with the plans of the former administration to privatise the Nigerian Communications Satellite, NigComSat, Limited. Shittu, who spoke to journalists when he inspected the facilities of the company on Tuesday, February 16, said any plan to sell the company and its facilities was an attempt to short-change Nigerians.

He said instead of selling NigComSat, the present administration would borrow money to increase the fleet of satellites available to the company so that its customers could be sure that they were patronising a solid satellite operator. He said, “The private sector itself has the freedom to put resources together and establish satellites if they feel they need them. This is one national treasure, which I don’t believe must be seeded to the private sector.

“We as Nigeria must have something we can collectively call our own; something that must remain our national pride. So, for anybody to want to sell this national pride is a mere attempt to short-change Nigeria and all Nigerians. So, as long as I am Minister of Communications, I will never be party to any such unholy sale, because it does not protect Nigeria’s best national interest.”

According to Shittu, Nigeria is the only country in Africa that has a full-fledged satellite centre like this. “No doubt, it is a pioneering effort, but I am convinced that because of the paucity of funds and because over the years, government has not provided the needed attention for Nigeria’s ICT revolution; we are still at the level we are. We all know that all we find here is just to support one satellite in the orbit. Nigeria currently has only one communications satellite in the orbit.

“One satellite is certainly not enough. Having one satellite is like a transporter who plies Lagos to Abuja; he has four tyres but he does not have a spare tyre. If something happens on the way, all his passengers who have paid their fares will be stuck. That is why we need more than one satellite in the orbit so that all other countries and all other agencies and all other companies who are patronising us and paying money for satellite will be rest assured that their investments are secured.”

The minister said efforts had been made to secure funding from offshore sources to finance two additional satellites for NigComSat, adding that two international companies had indicated interest in the project, which might cost about $700 million.

The administration of the former President Goodluck Jonathan, had in January 2015 said NigComSat would be privatised by 2018. This move led to a protest by workers of the organisation against the planned privatisation exercise.

NigComSat-1R, the country’s satellite launched in 2011, had increased its commercial value through the generation of revenue for government. The revenue was generated through the leasing of five KU transponders, C-Band, broadband sale and leasing of Direct to Home DTH, platform to private strategic partner.

In connecting Nigerians, NigComSat had complemented the fiber/terrestrial networks in Nigeria for the deployment of broadband networks in the rural areas and other sectors that includes security, health, education, agriculture and other applications with wide ranging geopolitical distribution.

NigComSat was designed be a key partner during the upcoming analogue to digital switchover. Television channels broadcast migration project would also depend on partners like NigComSat.

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