NASRDA: Why is Nigeria still wasting money to launch satellites?
When will decision makers stop making blank, untenable bets? When will Nigeria start getting it right?
After launching five satellites with nothing to show for it (publicly, at least), Nigeria is making another attempt at space-earth communication with the launch of yet another satellite — this time a nanosatellite. It is a scientific satellite that will supposedly be used to study environmental parameters and it will launch into orbit between May 23 and 27, 2017.
Nigeria has launched different kinds of “Africa’s first” satellites — the NigComSat-I, Africa’s first communications satellite, readily comes to mind. While there is nothing wrong with satellite launches, Nigeria has no business investing so heavily in areas like this — satellites are not cheap.
Prof. Seidu Mohammed, Director General of the National Space Research and Development Agency (NASRDA), while speaking to journalists in New York, says, “We believe before 2030, there will be need for Nigeria to be an international space station.”
The average Nigerian who lives on less than $2 a day would beg to differ. As a country struggling with deeply-rooted corruption, overpopulation, underdevelopment and extreme levels of unemployment, an “international space station” is not a “need”.
Rather than focusing its effort on building human capacity, improving the education sector and investing in tech infrastructure, NASRDA wants Nigeria to become a “space power” by 2030.
To properly understand why this a ridiculously naive approach to take, here’s the NASRDA DG explaining what the nanosatellites will be used for: “Those nanosatellites, each time they are within the Nigerian territory, would be singing National Anthem. So those who carry UHF radio would be able to receive it and all these are part of Nigeria’s efforts,” Nigeria CommunicationsWeek reports.
It’s only in Nigeria that the national anthem playing on UHF radio more important than investing in the tech ecosystem and building infrastructure that could actually benefit millions of Nigerians.
That aside, to think that a country with a next to non-existent space program and extensive infrastructural deficits (as well as a terrible lack of diversity in its economy) wants to design, build and launch satellites within 13 years is just laughable at best. Nigeria can’t even pass a budget on time.
When will we learn to stop wasting resources we don’t have? When will decision makers stop making blank, untenable bets? When will Nigeria start getting it right? When will Nigeria start to solve problems that actually matter?