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Sunday, August 25, 2013

How Nigeria Can Reap Benefits Of Space Technology

As reported by the Guardian: An expert has pointed out how Nigeria can become one of the world’s 20 largest economies by the year 2020.

The key, according to Prof. Tunji Ibiyemi of the Department of Electrical and Electronics Engineering, University of Ilorin, is research on transforming raw materials to finished products.

Ibiyemi said no country can achieve development by giving out its raw materials cheaply to other countries only to buy from them finished products. Nigeria, he noted, is still in the category of nations that more or less throw away their raw materials.

The professor spoke in Abuja while delivering a lecture titled: ‘Prospects of Communications Satellite in Nigeria’s Vision 2020’, in commemoration of 50 years, since the launch of the world’s first communication satellite, Syncom2.

Ibiyemi, whose research interests include Biometric Signal Processing, Telecommunications (satellite and GPS), Software Engineering, and Embedded System Design, said the global carrier of the raw materials of knowledge economy is the satellite and the transformation process of raw materials to product is via human capital development.

 He said if Nigeria is serious about realizing the Vision 20: 2020 goal, then space technology and human capital development must be taken very seriously.

 Ibiyemi said a lot is achievable if government is committed to adequate funding of space technology and embarks on aggressive space technology development and human capital development.

 He advised the National Space Research and Development Agency (NASRDA) to establish a factory for the production of satellite parts.

The Director General of NASRDA, Prof. Seidu Onailo Mohammed, said there are approximately 1,107 satellites providing civilian communications and another 792 supporting military communications.

Mohammed said the communications satellite industry is a multi-billion dollar affair that gives high returns on investment.

He called on the private sector in Nigeria to invest in the sector, noting that 2011 alone yielded a return of $90b.

The DG noted that with a projected population of 392 million in the West Africa sub-region by 2013, Nigeria cannot afford to stand aloof.

“This is an opportunity for us to do research and know that Nigeria has opportunity in communications satellite. The population of West Africa is estimated to be about 390 million by 2013. That is enough opportunity and the private sector in Nigeria must key in to create jobs for our people and fast-track development technology in this part of the world.”

This year world’s communications satellite day marked the 50th year when the historic telephone conversation between the then American President John Kennedy and Nigerian Prime Minister Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, was recorded through Syncom2.

The launch of Syncom2 on July 26, 1963 symbolized the beginning of technological revolutions across the globe through the application of space science technology.

This event laid the foundation for Nigeria’s interest in space program, which culminated in the launch of its first communications satellite, NIGCOMSAT-1, 44 years later.