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Page last updated at 12:34 GMT, Thursday, 13 November 2008

Nigerian satellite fails in space

NigComSat's website
The satellite has developed power trouble

A multi-million dollar Nigerian satellite launched in May 2007 has been shut down to prevent it spinning out of control and damaging others in orbit.

Chinese-built NigComSat-1 cost the African oil producer $340m (228m).

The Nigerian government said insurance would pay for a replacement and Nigerians should still be proud of the country's satellite programme.

But telecoms experts told the BBC it was a "white elephant in space" and the whole operation was a "debacle".

NigComSat-1 was launched 18 months ago to much fanfare from the government, but it has been mired in controversy ever since.

On Tuesday, controllers shut the satellite down because it was having problems with its power supply, the government announced.

The satellite was meant to provide communications for government agencies and broadband internet.

'Worthy investment'

"This has been a real debacle from day one," a telecoms engineer told the BBC.

Nigeria has exported its electricity generation problems to space
Joke doing the rounds in Nigeria

The engineer, who works as a consultant for a multinational communications company, did not want to be named.

The satellite was limited because the type of frequency it used was disturbed by clouds in the atmosphere, and did not work properly in Nigeria's rainy season or during the Harmattan, when clouds of dust blow down from the Sahara, he said.

The satellite also operated on frequencies already allo