We saw how Lekki was flooded and property lost, we are seeing how Benue is flooded, lives and property lost! With satellite forecast, meteorologist would have given the residents of these areas prior warning before Mother Nature strikes as it is being done now by The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) for Hurricane Irma. Did Nigerian Satellite Agency do the needful? Satellite has become an essential in our day to day live, though very expensive, many countries of Africa might not afford it, but can “lend” from its services from the big players. Nigeria, as the “Giant of Africa” is in the exclusive member club of satellite owners in Africa. The big question that the industry watchers are asking is “Are Nigerian satellite in orbit redundant or underutilized”. A trend that has seen the National Satellite Providers Nigerian Communication Satellite (NIGCOMSAT) and its sister agency National Space Research and Development Agency( NASRDA) broke, with little or no revenue generated from their services.
Nigeria has a space programme! Since 2003 the West African country has been operating its own satellites, three of which are currently collecting data from Earth orbit. Oh yes, that is a fact. The satellite Nigeria has in orbit has a bigger footprint in the whole Sub Saharan Africa with some areas of his Northern part of the continent stretching to the Middle East! This is massive but the country lacks the capacity to tap into this.
Satellites can be classified by their functions.The type of satellite that is launched to monitor cloud patterns for a weather station will be different than a satellite launched to send television signals and we have the one that monitors weather . The Nigeria Sat-2 and Nigeria Sat-X spacecraft were launched into orbit aboard a Russian Dnepr rocket from a launch pad in the town of Yasny, southern Russia. With the collaboration of the UK not Nigerian engineers on the project. As of being monitored from control stations in Guildford, UK, and Abuja in Nigeria.
The Nigerian satellite has the capacity to bring down the cost of internet and boost the internet penetration in regions that lack access and fibre optics such as hinterlands. It is a known fact that the internet is an enabler, now that the country is tilting towards data revolution and the Internet of Things (IoT) the agencies saddled with the responsibility of creating an enabling environment that would see startups “leap frog” their businesses have been found wanting in this area. Today, Nigerians are at the mercy of telecommunication firms (private) with government agencies like NIGCOMSAT standing akimbo and aloof.
The aloofness isn’t the main gist. What is worrying is the environmental challenges the country has experienced this year. We have seen a series of flooding in the country lately. With the attendant loss of lives in Benue and property in Lekki,one keeps asking, why isn’t the Nigerian satellite and its operators with their meteorologist warn Nigerians of imminent dangers posed by the weather. We know that weather occurrences cannot be prevented, but at least its damage can be minimized. We have seen the National Space Centre warn Americans and even neighbouring countries of the Caribbean to brace up for hurricanes, giving them names and categories, from hurricane Lucy to Katrina. As of the time of this report the NASA is warning people to be prepared for hurricane Irma. The organization has categorized the weather occurrence and even notified people of the speed of approach (around 230 Km/H) and people from Florida in Dominican Republic are getting ready! That is pro-activeness and power of the satellite. The last time I checked, NIGCOMSAT or NASRDA didn’t warn the Benue people of oncoming heavy rainfall not did the people of Lekki. We know that there is always a pattern of weather, but did they key into their two satellites sitting or sleeping in the orbit? Remember, one is a weather and a disaster monitoring satellite.
According to Wikipedia, the Nigerian satellite is “NigeriaSat-1 is a satellite of the standard Disaster Monitoring Constellation (DMC) design. It has 100 kg mass and carries an optical imaging payload developed by SSTL to provide 32 m ground resolution with an exceptionally wide swath width of over 640 km. The payload uses green, red and near infrared bands equivalent to Landsat TM+ bands 2, 3 and 4. Images are stored in a 1-gigabyte solid-state data recorder and returned via an 8-Mbit/s S-band downlink. NigeriaSat-1 can image scenes as large as 640 x 560 km, providing unparalleled wide-area, medium-resolution data. The data will be used within Nigeria to monitor pollution, land use and other medium-scale phenomena. Launched in 27, September 2003, ” NigeriaSat-2 and Nigeria Sat-X with 300 kg mass each – to replace NigeriaSat-1, commenced November 6, 2006 Did the satellite monitor the disaster?
According to BBC reports “The satellites could also provide Nigeria with the ability to enhance food security through monthly crop monitoring, assist with burgeoning urban planning demands and, through the development of engineering skills, advance the country’s technological capability. ” Today, the draught is there and the way the country has decided to tackle this is via “Grazing Routes”. We are waiting for imaging from the satellite that will show us where and how the draught or desert encroachment has affected the North. It can be “Waiting for Godot”.
Unlike Nigeria, other countries have deployed satellite to solve many of their social problems such as food security, defence and communication. South Africa boosts her crop forecast accuracy with satellite imagery. “NigeriaSat-2 will significantly boost African capabilities for remote sensing applications, specifically for natural resource management”, said Dr. S O Mohammed. The question is; how real is this? As of today, over 110,000 thousand risk contracting disease and there were three deaths, two adults and one child in Benue State!
Anthony Emeka Nwosu
With the attendant loss of lives in Benue and property in Lekki,one keeps asking, why isn’t the Nigerian satellite and its operators with their meteorologist warn Nigerians of imminent dangers posed by the weather. We know that weather occurrences cannot be prevented, but at least its damage can be minimized. We have seen the National Space Centre warn Americans and even neighbouring countries of the Caribbean to brace up for hurricanes, giving them names and categories, from hurricane Lucy to Katrina. As of the time of this report the NASA is warning people to be prepared for hurricane Irma. The organization has categorized the weather occurrence and even notified people of the speed of approach (around 230 Km/H)