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FG, UK firm sign $250m satellite deal with Nigeria

The federal government yesterday signed a $250 million joint venture/partnership agreement with MENASAT Gulf Group to provide synthetic-aperture radar (SAR) satellites in the country. The SAR satellite technology will be the first in Nigeria, and images generated from it will benefit particularly oil and gas operators, farmers, ocean monitoring and assist the military.

Signing on behalf of the federal government in Abuja, the Director- General of the National Space Research and Development Agency (NASRDA), Dr. Seidu Onailo Mohammed, said the SAR technology was necessary for Nigeria because of the challenges the agency had in acquiring images especially in the southern part of the country.

“We have always had this constraint, that even though we are the national repository for satellite images, we are not able to provide completely all the required images in this country. In the light of that, we have specially taken this opportunity to satisfy the Nigerian market,” the NASRDA director general said.

As part of the agreement, Nigeria will contribute its expertise, as well as make a place available for the firm, which will set up a ground-saving station and equipment for processing and making the images available for Nigerians.

MENASAT managing director, Dr. Hani Salem, said the firm decided to invest in Nigeria because the country had a solid foundation, capacity and was more advanced in the earth observation satellite sector than most other countries in Africa.

“We have a very important and solid foundation to build on in Nigeria for this technology; that is why we are here,” he said.
Salem stated that the first satellite plan was expected to be completed by 2020 and will cost $250 million. He said the satellite, being the first in Africa, was an advanced step for Nigeria that would have an impact on the technological development of the country.