16 May, 2013
Nigeria’s NIGCOMSAT-1R, pre-launch
Photo Credit: NEW YORK TIMES
China helped to design,finance,build and launch the US$311 million Nigerian communication satellite, NIGCOMSAT-1R. After 21 bids had been taken from across the globe with many Western financiers reluctant to provide any financial incentives for Western satellite firms citing “corruption in Nigeria” as reason, China EXIM Bank provided US$200 million in preferential buyers’ credit to facilitate the project while Nigeria provided the balance of the required funds for the initial NIGCOMSAT-1, Africa’s first communications satellite which was launched in May 2007. That was how China clinched the deal.
After NIGCOMSAT-1 deorbited on account of a malfunction in its power system, the replacement NIGCOMSAT-1R was built and launched for Nigeria free of charge by the Chinese.
Typical of Chinese satellite technology, NIGCOMSAT-1R is a multipurpose satellite incorporating civilian and military applications. Talk about the customer being the ‘king’. Compare that to the paternalistic ‘you will hurt yourselves’ or ‘sensitive technology’ chimes emanating from our ‘traditional partners’
SECURITY SURVEILLANCE PROJECT: US$470 MILLION NIGCOMSAT-ZTE CHINA VENTURE
The Chinese, for much the same reasons relating to favourable terms, have clinched multibillion dollar deals valued at an estimated US$12 billion from federal and state governments, cutting deals in the realm of infrastructure to undertake railway modernisation, construct light rail, in power generation, among others.
At a time of critical security challenges such as we are living through as Nigerians, even as our partners are tending towards ambivalence and might even slam an arms embargo against us at any time citing alleged human rights abuses as reason, the Federal Government of Nigeria would do well to package a similar funding arrangement with which to acquire much needed hardware – such as three Type 056 stealth corvettes, three Harbin Z-9EC ASW helicopters and a squadron of Hongdu L15 Falcon supersonic trainer/light attack jets from China. That would not cost us more than US$400 million. Let us think about it dispassionately. National interest FIRST!
May peace return to our land in no time at all.