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

China May Be Biggest Winner From Ukraine Crisis

Missile sales, oil and gas shipments are among many areas that may drive Beijing and Moscow closer together in coming years More

Obama Faces Chaotic World, Limits of Power

Current foreign policy issues bring into focus challenges for US policymakers who are mindful of Americans' waning appetite for overseas military engagements More

SADC Meeting Lesotho Officials to Resolve Stalemate

Official says regional bloc has been engaged with leaders in Lesotho to resolve political disagreement that led to coup attempt 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.
West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015i
X
Carol Pearson
August 30, 2014 7:14 PM
A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Jewish Ghetto

When the German Nazi army occupied the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered at the Union League Club in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.
Video

Video Cost to Raise Child in US Continues to Rise

The cost of raising a child in the United States continues to rise. In its latest annual report, the U.S. Department of Agriculture says middle income families with a child born in 2013 can expect to spend more than $240,000 before that child turns 18. And sending that child to college more than doubles that amount. VOA’s Deborah Block visited with a couple with one child in Alexandria, Virginia, to learn if the report reflects their lifestyle.
Video

Video Chaotic Afghan Vote Recount Threatens Nation’s Future

Afghanistan’s troubled presidential election continues to be rocked by turmoil as an audit of the ballots drags on. The U.N. says the recount will not be completed before September 10. Observers say repeated disputes and delays are threatening the orderly transfer of power and could have dangerous consequences. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Ukraine Battles Pro-Russia Rebel Assault

After NATO concluded an emergency meeting to discuss the crisis in eastern Ukraine, the country is struggling to contain heavy fighting near the strategic port of Mariupol, on the Azov Sea. Separatist rebels are trying to capture the city, allegedly with Russian military help, and Ukraine's defense forces are digging in. VOA's Daniel Schearf spoke with analysts about what lies ahead for Ukraine.
Video

Video Growing Business Offers Paint with a Twist of Wine

Two New Orleans area women started a small business seven years ago with one thing in mind: to help their neighbors relieve the stress of coping with a hurricane's aftermath. Today their business, which pairs painting and a little bit of wine, has become one of the fastest growing franchises across the U.S. VOA’s June Soh met the entrepreneurs at their newest franchise location in the Washington suburbs.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials To Begin Next Week

The National Institutes of Health says it is launching early stage trials of a vaccine to prevent the Ebola virus, which has infected or killed thousands of people across West Africa. The World Health Organization says Ebola could infect more than 20,000 people across the region by the time the outbreak is over. The epidemic has health experts and governments scrambling to prevent more people from becoming infected. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Asian Bacteria Threatens Florida Orange Trees

Florida's citrus fruit industry is facing a serious threat from a bacteria carried by the Asian insect called psyllid. The widespread infestation again highlights the danger of transferring non-native species to American soil. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Aging Will Reduce Economic Growth Worldwide in Coming Decades

The world is getting older, fast. And as more people retire each year, fewer working-age people will be there to replace them. Bond rating agency Moody’s says that will lead to a decline in household savings; reducing global investments - which in turn, will lead to slower economic growth around the world. But experts say it’s not too late to mitigate the economic impact of the world’s aging populations. Mil Arcega has more.
Video

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

The United States along with European and Mideast allies are considering a broader assault against Islamic State fighters who have spread from Syria into Iraq and risk further destabilizing an already troubled region. But as VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, confronting those militants could end up helping the embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Video

Video Made in America Socks Get Toehold in Online Fashion Market

Three young entrepreneurs are hoping to revolutionize the high-end sock industry by introducing all-American creations of their own. And they’re doing most of it the old-fashioned way. VOA’s Julie Taboh recently caught up with them to learn what goes into making their one-of-a-kind socks.
Video

Video Americans, Ex-Pats Send Relief Supplies to West Africa

Health organizations from around the world are sending supplies and specialists to the West African countries that are dealing with the worst Ebola outbreak in history. On a smaller scale, ordinary Americans and African expatriates living in the United States are doing the same. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.

AppleAndroid