On Wednesday, January 3, 2017, Minister of Communication Adebayo Shittu disclosed that China had committed to giving Nigeria $550 million to fund the purchase of two satellites which will be launched into space in the next two years.
Adebayo Shittu made this disclosure in the State House, Abuja after a meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari where he said that both the China Exim Bank and China Great Walls had agreed to fund the project 100% following Nigeria’s inability to fulfill the initial agreement it reached with China to provide 15% of the $550 million.
He also went on to say that Nigeria’s satellite communications had up until now been ineffective because the federal government-owned satellite company, NigComSat , has only one satellite which could not guarantee the confidentiality of prospective customers.
According to Shittu, “It is a very big business opportunity and I am sure that the Chinese appreciate the potential market that is so versed and that is why they agreed in spite of our inability to provide 15%t, that they are prepared to bring the entire sum of $550 million for the procurement of the two satellites.”
“He was excited but he was not surprised because he appreciated that the Chinese appreciated the immense or unlimited opportunities which we offer. So, the president, conscious of the entire gamut of satellite communications, was not surprised that Chinese agreed to pay 100% of it,” Shittu said in regard to briefing the President on the welcome development.
Although he was clear to state that the funding is not a loan but rather an equity of the Chinese company in a Nigerian business. He further explained that there would be a profit-sharing agreement between Nigeria and the Chinese companies of an agreed ratio.
Addressing the readiness of the satellites, the minister explained that, “It takes two years to make a release because it is after signing of the papers that they will start production and that takes two years. So, we hope that at the end of this month, we will be able to sign the papers and then, they will commence the manufacturing of the satellites and it is after the conclusion of the manufacturing, that these two new satellites will be launched into space.”
He emphasized that the project was not meant for job creation but rather meant to serve as the platform for the conquest of the entire of African satellite market, explaining that once the satellites are launched, all companies operating in Nigeria would be barred from patronizing foreign companies for their satellite communications data