News / Africa

Nigeria Expects Flow of Information from New Satellites

NIGERIASAT-2 (shown here in a rendered image) and Nigeria Sat-X will take infrared readings of Nigerian farms, and beam down data estimating next season's crop forecast
NIGERIASAT-2 (shown here in a rendered image) and Nigeria Sat-X will take infrared readings of Nigerian farms, and beam down data estimating next season's crop forecast
Drew Hinshaw

Nigeria recently launched two new observation satellites designed to assist farmers and help with disaster management, among other tasks.  Experts say the new satellites mark a major leap forward for the Nigerian space program.

At the top of the sky, where space begins, two satellites are gliding into position, oriented by the glow of the galaxy and the uplink command from Abuja.  This is Nigeria's space program.

This week, a team of rocket scientists in Africa's most populous country are guiding into place Nigeria's third and fourth satellites, fired into orbit last week.

The two satellites include the first built by Africans, but they are not for mapping the cosmos.  They are for mapping Lagos, a megacity that seems as vast as the Milky Way.

As many as 17 million people live in Lagos State alone, a crowded constellation of humanity that has hardly been mapped.

Cameras perched on Nigeria's two newest satellites will allow municipal leaders to chart the city they preside over, says Steve Young, who is head of business development for the company that built one of the two satellites, Surrey Satellite Technology.

Lagos residents will directly benefit from their country's space program, he says, and governments presiding over Africa's other megacities may soon follow.

"We often take it for granted in industrialized nations that we have all this information, we have accurate maps, we have land registries, we have planning systems, we have precision agriculture systems.  We have all this stuff in place, but for a lot of countries, they don't," Young noted.

But the new satellites, Nigeria Sat-2 and Nigeria Sat-X, will do more than photograph sub-Saharan Africa's largest city.  They will take infrared readings of Nigeria's farms, and beam down data estimating next season's crop forecast.  They will also offer farmers satellite data on where to apply fertilizer, and keep tabs on how Nigeria's desert areas are spreading.

When disaster strikes, aid agencies will rely on the photographs the satellites provide.

Up to now when confronted by disasters Nigeria has often relied on purchased photos from other satellites, says Umar Isah of Nigerian Communications Satellites.  He says the two new satellites will boost Nigeria's space capabilities.

"So if we can have our own satellite?  And apart from that the four satellites that Nigeria has built, Nigerian engineers work on that, and if we're able to be launching this, we're able to build another one side by side with the Surrey engineers.  So at least in terms of human development it's something," said Isah.

That, Young agrees, is Nigeria's real space dividend.  More than 40 Nigerian space engineers are studying for PhD or Master's degrees in computer science worldwide, he says.  He says when they come home, they will be like rocket fuel for the country's fledgling high-tech industry.

"You are now beginning to train a corps of very experienced engineers, high-technology technicians, and people who are going to benefit the wider economy," said Young.  "That also is a very good effect that the Nigerians get in investing in high-tech programs. They've got to develop their economy and that's one of the ways they do that is by doing this."

Critics say the space program is a prestige mission by Nigeria's rich elite.  Four-fifths of the country lives on less than $2 a day, despite an unending flow of oil money.

Isah says Nigerians cannot let their problems on Earth stop them from exploring the promise of the stars.

You May Like

IS Militants Release 49 Turkish Hostages

Turkey's state-run Anadolu news agency reports that no ransom was paid and no conditions accepted for the hostages' release; few details of the release are known More

Photogallery IS Attacks Send Thousands of Syrian Kurds Fleeing to Turkey

Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says more than 300 Kurdish fighters crossed into Syria from Turkey to defend a Kurdish area from attack by the Islamic militants More

Video Sierra Leone's Ebola Lockdown Continues

Thousands of health workers are going door to door in the West African country of 6 million, informing people of how to avoid Ebola, handing out soap More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Fears Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’i
X
Jeff Seldin
September 20, 2014 10:28 PM
Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Fears Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’

Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Iran, World Powers Seek Progress in Nuclear Talks

Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany, known as the P5 + 1, have started a new round of talks on Iran's nuclear program. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports that as the negotiations take place in New York, a U.S. envoy is questioning Iran's commitment to peaceful nuclear activity.
Video

Video Obama Goes to UN With Islamic State, Ebola on Agenda

President Obama goes to the United Nations General Assembly to rally nations to support a coalition against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria. He also will look for nations to back his plan to fight the Ebola virus in West Africa. As VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports, Obama’s efforts reflect new moves by the U.S. administration to take a leading role in addressing world crises.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Militant Assault in Syria Displaces Thousands of Kurds

A major assault by Islamic State militants on Kurds in Syria has sent a wave of new refugees to the Turkish border, where they were stopped by Turkish border security. Turkey is already hosting about 700,000 Syrian refugees who fled the civil war between the government and the opposition. But the government in Ankara has a history of strained relations with Turkey's Kurdish minority. Zlatica Hoke reports Turkey is asking for international help.
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid