President Muhammadu Buhari on Friday restated commitment to ensuring the space sector witnessed development for digital economy and national security.
Buhari made the commitment in a statement signed by Dr Felix Ale, Head, Media and Cooperate Communications of the National Space Research and Development Agency (NASRDA) in Abuja.
The President while presiding over the National Space Council (NSC) meeting at the state house, explained that the development of Space Science and Technology and launch of satellites remained the core mandate of the nation’s premier space agency.
“Space technology provides a new frontier for human development as a stimulant for increased technological advancement and economic innovation.
“It offers a unique platform for effective exploration and exploitation of natural resources as well as the protection of our environment.
“The government is committed to development of the space sector, because it is the foundation for cyber security and a vibrant digital economy which is at the forefront of progress and development across the globe.
“The government will keep supporting space programmes, particularly in the provision of relevant resources needed for the growth and ultimate realisation of the various mandates of the Nigeria space agency,” he said.
The President also reaffirmed the strategic and constitutional role of NASRDA as the only government agency saddled with the core mandate to build and launch satellites for various applications in Nigeria.
The President, who also doubles as Chairman of Nigeria Space Council, directed all stakeholders in the space sector to strictly abide by NASRDA Act 2010, the regulatory framework that established it.
He, however, directed the Minister of Science and Technology, Dr Ogbonnaya Onu, to urgently prepare and submit to the Federal Executive Council for consideration and approval a revised 25-year roadmap for the implementation of the National Space Policy.
Onu, in the statement, pointed out that Space Science and Technology was critical to nation building and had direct impact on all sectors of the economy.
He stressed the need for the space agency to collaborate with relevant stakeholders for actualisation of its mandates which sought to promote the development of space capabilities that addressed urgent needs of Nigerians.
He pledged his support, especially in the area of effective policy formulation and implementation in line with its mandate.
“I will ensure that both human and material resources are mobilised to realise NASRDA’s basic objectives for the overall benefit of Nigerians.”
The Director-General of NASRDA, Dr Halilu Shaba, made a presentation on the current status of Nigeria Sat-2 which, he said, needed to be replaced because it had outlived its designed lifespan.
Shaba, however, said the satellite was still functioning effectively and supplying relevant data.
He updated the meeting on the progress made on building and plans to launch two very important satellites, the Synthetic Aperture Radar, Nigeria SAR -1 and Nigeria Sat-3, an optical earth observation satellite.
According to him, the satellites will go a long way in providing relevant data on mapping and geospatial information for decision makers in addressing issues of urgent national importance like security and economy growth.
Shaba also appealed for intensified funding of the agency’s activities in order to actualise its set objectives for the technological advancement of the country.
He also gave a detailed briefing on the agency’s support to the Nigerian Armed Forces, especially in their fight against terrorists, provision of digital support for agriculture and population activities as well as distribution of infrastructure and projects monitoring.
The National Space Council oversees activities of the National Space Agency especially in the areas of policy development, national security and international space policy matters.
The 25-year Roadmap on National Space Programme, 2005-2030, has the launch of an indigenous satellite from Nigerian soil, training of Nigerian astronauts, large commercialisation of space technology as some of its agenda.
The NigeriaSat-2, a high resolution earth observation satellite, was launched in 2011 and was designed for seven years.