Nigeria’s minister of state for science and technology, Alhassan Zaku has confirmed that the country’s communications satellite NIGCOMSAT-1, has been powered down due to a malfunctioning solar panel.
The energy failure comes just 18 months after the Chinese-manufactured satellite was launched.
Reports claim that the satellite has already fallen out of its orbit and been destroyed in order to prevent it from harming others.
It has been alleged that the Chinese manufacturers of the satellite used poor-quality materials which has resulted in the loss of the satellite.
According to Akin Soyinka, chair of non-governmental organization Nigeria Internet Watch, ‘This damage has hindered the country’s efforts to bridge the digital divide with the developed world.
The federal government invested a lot of resources in building the satellite – to the detriment of education and health in the last four years – with the hope of bridging the digital divide and accelerating the country’s development, but now all that is gone down the drain.’
They were optimistic that the satellite project would aid development by linking up rural communities and progressing telemedicine and long-distance learning. There were also ambitious commercial goals. But these are now dashed.
The US$240 million satellite was supposed to work for 15 years, and was officially monitored by a ground control station in Abuja, Nigeria, with backup stations in China, Italy, northern Nigeria and the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) satellite applications centre in Hartebeesthoek, South Africa.