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Friday, 8 November, 2002, 15:53 GMT
Nigeria to enter space age
The European Union's own weather satellite being launch in August 2002
Nigeria's space programme will cost about $2.5m a year
Nigeria is hoping to launch its first satellite in July 2003, its science and technology minister has said.

The satellite, which will be built in partnership with a British company, will be used for weather observation, and will later become a communications satellite, Professor Isoun Turner told the BBC's Network Africa programme.


I think it is one of the best things Nigeria has done

Isoun Turner
In July 2001, the Nigerian Government formally adopted a National Space Policy with the objective of launching its own satellite and space research programmes.

With the initiative, which will cost about $2.5m a year, there are hopes that the launch of dedicated satellites will greatly improve communication links - Nigeria has notoriously bad phone lines.

Weather prediction satellite

Initially, the remote sensing satellite will be used to solve practical problems for agriculture, forestry and oceans by scouring isolated parts of the country for signs of fire or flood.

The minister said the $15m micro-satellite will be built in partnership with a UK-based company, Surrey Space Technology Ltd.

The European Union's MSG.1 weather satellite
Nigeria denies launching another 'white elephant'
Fifteen Nigerian engineers currently being trained in Britain will be involved in the design and production of the satellite.

The minister dismissed suggestions that the project was just one of Nigeria's "white elephants".

"I think it is one of the best things Nigeria has done," he said.

"Because in the current globalisation, Nigerians should be boasting their hi-tech and appropriate technology so that we can now work together and take advantage of where we're strong.

"And we believe that it is critically important that Nigeria should be present in this area."

He said that this was not a one-off project.

"We are getting the know-how and the product; we are part and parcel of space technology," he said.

"We are in the space programme for a long time."

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 ON THIS STORY
Minister Isoun Turner on BBC Network Africa
"We are in the space programme for a long time"
See also:

06 Jul 01 | Science/Nature
18 Apr 01 | Science/Nature
09 Dec 99 | Science/Nature
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