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Last Updated: Monday, 29 September, 2003, 17:00 GMT 18:00 UK
Is Nigeria's space satellite worth it?
Nigeria's first earth observation satellite, the Nigeriasat-1, has been launched from a cosmodrome in Russia.

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

As well as helping with weather prediction, it will later become a communications satellite.

The launch has been planned for some time, following a decision by the Nigerian Government to adopt National Space Policy.

But is such a policy a priority for a developing country?

This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.


The following comments reflect the balance of views we have received:

I am rally happy for Africans in general and particularly for Nigerians. Indeed, this news comes to change what usually was said about Nigeria and the African countries. Some will think the space satellites aren't for African countries because they have lots of priorities such as the fights againts starvation, AIDS, etc. I would like to remind them that science and technology for development must be the highest priority of the African countries. That's why I must express my joyfulness and satisfaction with this decision, so congratilutions.
Atoumane Fall, Senegal

This will provide another channel for government officials to siphon funds from the public purse. Right now Nigerians don't need satellites, what they need is, potable water, constant electricity, motor-able roads, stable currency in a virile economy and a government with a goal and purpose. Remember that in Nigeria, the officials are not corrupt, but corruption is official.
Ayo Awoyele, United Kingdom

Nigerians commenting here are the elite of their society - they have access to the internet, unlike the vast majority of their fellow countrymen. It is therefore not surprising that their views reflect those of the governing elite! Obviously, to such people, shoving an old satellite in orbit has more merit than providing basic services (water, electricity, roads, education, etc.) to the ordinary Nigerian-in-the-street.
Mark M. Newdick, US/UK

This is a positive and far-sighted procurement for a nation at risk of being marginalised by the Western world
Peter Smith, UK
In an increasingly globalised world the opportunity to obtain technology which adds the transition to a free market economy is of supreme importance. I believe that this is a positive and far-sighted procurement for a nation at risk of being marginalised by the Western world if it does not try to close the already huge technological gap.
Peter Smith, UK

Another white elephant, to find job for the boys. When Universities lack basic facilities and workers are not well paid, what is the value of satellite programme to my hungry relations in the village? We wasted our vote by voting in Obasanjo.
Clifford, South Africa

I believe this is the first step in taking Nigeria into the 21st Century. We as Nigerians and Africans must begin to diminish our reliance on countries that seek to keep us in economic bondage(England). And reach out to countries like China, Russia and Japan.
Okechukwu Oji, U.S>A

Can this put food on the plates ordinary Nigerians? Will it end the never ending fuel queues? Look Mr. Obasanjo, launching this satellite is not worth it. Just to let you know that Nigeria is not ready for such a venture, you cannot launch it from your home soil.
Sama S. Mondeh, Sierra Leone/Canada.

This is the best thing for Nigeria and Africa as a whole. At least people will now respect, recognise and remove that dirty "African Image". Nigeria is no developing country - it is a country just like every other country.
Dayo Olaleye, Finland

Far too often Nigeria has aped the West without understanding the basis of their development. The West adopted a certain ideology that made it progress. Nigeria cannot even conquer the skies [the international air fleet is grounded] yet it wants to conquer space. The Nigerian zoo is full of white elephants and this is going to be another one that will join them.
Abdallah Adam, UK

This is the Nigerian equivalent of America's programme of landing man on the moon. Like the Americans did in the 1960s, this is prestige project and reckless waste of money while the Nigerian people wallow in poverty and disease. Window dressing with 21st century technology while the people that are suppose to benefit live in the dark ages is a clear manifestation of misplaced priority by African leaders.
Abdulai Fofana, Sierra Leone

It is a welcome development for Nigeria to join the host of other countries that have in the past sent satellites to space. The prosperity of any nation lies in science and technology. Also space technology has become a major high-tech industry of the future therefore if the project is well directed, it could be of huge innovative and economic benefit to Nigeria. As for president Obasanjo, it is high time he realized that " To whom much is given, much is required". History will never forgive him if after his second term in office he still has nothing to offer in spite of the countries' enormous riches.
Kingsley Chidi Umeh, Nigeria

Having lived in the country for over 2 years, it is both sad and unsurprising to see such monumental folly hoisted on an impoverished people. When Nigerians are able to turn a tap and receive drinkable water, enjoy freedom of speech in the Northern Sharia states (Kano, Bauchi etc)then let Obasanjo and his cronies do whatever they see fit. Would it not be more beneficial to secure the oil revenues and refineries in the South and use some of this, home-grown income, to finance any future star-gazing? Or does that smack too much of a common sense approach; something sadly lacking in the country since 1960?
James E Barnett, UK

I am glad that someone is starting to take Nigeria into the 21st century
B, UK
Structurally the move makes sense, it is an attempt at independence and perhaps a military play. Perhaps in the future, Nigeria will see its own mobile network, satellite TV and missile guidance systems. The immediate moral ground is the increase in agricultural productivity, health and weather prediction but ultimately there is both an economic and military long term advantage. I am glad that someone is starting to take Nigeria into the 21st century. In my opinion, it is a price worth paying.
B, UK

While the project should be seen with all its good intentions, I fear that the institutional culture of Nigeria where infrastructures are left to decay will soon rear its ugly head and render the intentions useless and unattainable. Travel through the length and breadth of the country and see the state of decay of infrastructures and you will know what I mean.
Abraham Tomvie Goodhead, Nigerian in UK.

A mere waste of money and money making venture for the few so-called leaders through contracts and other negotiations. The satellite project itself is of no importance as the major problem in Nigeria is people oriented, i.e. management of resources. It is a misplacement of priority in a nation without security in all forms, no working system, no jobs, no infrastructure and a deeply corrupt system.
Adekunle Oyegoke, Finland/Nigeria

The key to the solution of Nigeria's socioeconomic problems can never be found in sending a refurbished, and aging Russian satellite to an already saturated orbit, when 98% of Nigerian roads are death-traps. So-called Nigerian leaders have PhDs in Misplacement of Priority.
Adiele Ohiaeri, USA

This is going to be money well spent for the country. I am so happy our leaders are finally doing things to change the lives of Nigerians. However, this will need constant investment and I hope we can cope with it and not neglect it like other previous projects. Good job Nigeria.
Olu Bajulaiye, England

If it can help improve agriculture, communications as well as advance science in their society then the Nigerians will realise a return on their investment many times over.
John, USA

It is high time Nigeria utilized her oil revenues to add value to the lives of her citizens. The impact and cost savings of having a satellite system will aid distance education, communications, weather reports for farming and fishing, medical care in villages and the arts.It will take years to pay for itself but well worth it. This may actually seal President Obasanjo's name in history, along with his democratic credentials.
Ed Edet, US/Nigerian

The launching and use of a weather-related satellite by Nigeria might seem too other-worldly, unrealistic and misplaced for a developing country. But, given the history of crop failures, low agricultural productivity in spite of sizeable arable land; and also given the heart-rending records of weather- related accidents and other atmospheric and ecological disasters, the initiation of a weather satellite could be a useful, innovative and beneficial move in a continent where industrial, technical and scientific trends are badly needed. But, one other additional benefit is that, like in other leading, historical, African achievements, Nigeria as a leading African nation (like its South African counterpart), would likely share the weather-space satellite technology with its neighbouring African nations, thereby minimizing systemic, endemic, occupational and transportation hazards in the continent.
Igonikon Jack, USA

This project is another product of short sightedness on the part of our leaders
Johnson Agbakagba, Nigeria
We always get our priorities wrong. You need to see the infrastructural decay in Nigeria to realise that this project is another product of short sightedness on the part of our leaders.
Johnson Agbakagba, Nigeria

Mahathir built the Petronas towers, other tyrants built other towers so why not Obasanjo sending satellites to the sky. What else could he do with the excess oil revenue of Nigeria?
Xenon Luminescu, Romania

Xenon Luminescu's comment from Romania defies belief and shows his/her ignorance when it comes to African issues. First of all Obasanjo is not a tyrant, he is a democratically elected president whose tenure ends in 3 years time. Secondly could we all please refrain from this sterotypical garbage of calling any African country poor. Nigeria is not a poor country, poor in managing wealth distribution, mayber but definitely not poor. I think it is about time that African countries start standing on its own two feet.
Jide , USA

There are plenty of satellites already in orbit which could have provided the necessary information to Nigeria for a fee far less than the cost of this satellite and far sooner. This is another example of a third world nation spending money extravagantly on useless projects and then going hat in hand to the first world begging for money while crying poverty. And there are plenty of humanitarian liberals in government who will be only too happy to take their taxpayers' money and give it to them. Nigeria should get its priorities straight and learn that charity begins at home.
Mark, USA

I appreciate the Nigerians for their effort, it should be the example for poor African countries
Zulfi, India

What a waste of money! I am sure it would be cheaper to use satellites already available
Mark Lugg, Australia

Do not think that it could solve problems, without back-up reforms it will prove to be a waste of money.
Mary McCannon, Hungary




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