Written by Bode Adewumi Tuesday, 20 November 2012
Tuesday, 13 November 2012
NIGERIA’S march to join the league of countries with robust satellite communication platforms has received a major boost as Information and Communications Technology (ICT) experts voted overwhelmingly for an Act to establish the Nigerian Communications Satellite Corporation.
They spoke in Lagos at a one day Stakeholders’ Forum organised by the ICT Publishers Alliance for industry experts and the public to make contributions towards the proposed NIGCOMSAT Bill currently awaiting passage by the Senate. The ICT Publishers’ Alliance is a body consisting of frontline publications specialising in publishing magazines in the ICT industry.
From leading speakers to respondents from the audience during the session, as well as feedback taken on the spot through an opinion poll, there was over 85 per cent total affirmation and endorsement for the bill to be passed. A few, however, cautioned that while the bill was desirable, Nigeria should be wary of the pitfalls that dogged some failed state institutions so as to prevent the institution, NigComSat from suffering such fate when the bill becomes an Act of Parliament.
In a similar vein, the Communiqué urged government to do all it can to support NIGCOMSAT in driving broadband penetration in the country adding that satellite technology driven by NIGCOMSAT was the best for a developing nation like Nigeria.
The proposed NIGCOMSAT bill, which is now set for deliberation at the Senate before it will eventually be sent to the President for assent has already been passed by the House of Representatives as at March 2012.
The bill seeks to establish an Act that will give the agency power to engage in, purchase and otherwise acquire or take over the assets, business, company, firm or persons and act in furtherance of all and any business associated and or relating to the satellite industry.
Speaking at the forum, Managing Director, NigComSat, Engr. Ahmed Rufai, noted that NIGCOMSAT had developed a lot of initiative including the successful launch of NIGCOMSAT -1R into orbit in December 2011, with footprints covering several countries; It has also partnered with Main One Cable Company to distribute broadband capacity to over 40 countries thus generating a lot of money for government.
He pointed out that despite the above, the company was faced with the problem of rolling out fast because of government bureaucracy. Consequently, the bill in question, if passed into law, would enable NIGCOMSAT to operate faster.
Some experts, however, such as Chief Executive of Teledom Group, Dr. Emmanuel Ekuwem and the President of the Nigerian Internet Group, Engr. Bayo Banjo, expressed concern that the spirit of the bill if passed into law must be implemented in such a way as not to undermine competition in the sector.