Adebayo Shittu, minister of communications, says the current administration might push for a legislation that would make all Nigerian companies patronise the country’s satellite once it is completed.
The minister made this statement on Wednesday while speaking with state house correspondents after meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari.
He said the EXIM Bank of China and the China Great Walls have agreed to pay $550 million for the production of two new satellites for Nigerian Communications Satellite Ltd (NigComSat).
Before now, Nigeria was expected to pay 15 percent of the sum as counterpart funding but Shittu said the country could not raise the amount.
“Initially the agreement was that they will provide the cost of the two satellite $550 million minus 15 percent which is the counterpart funding,” he said.
“Because we could not afford this 15 percent, we have renegotiated with the EXIM Bank of China and the China Great Walls who are the manufacturers and they have happily agreed to pay the entire $550 million to procure two new satellites, the two new ones will ensure that the Nigerian satellite company which is NigComSat can conquer the entire African continent in regard to the provision of satellite communication services.
“This is a very big business opportunity and I am sure that the Chinese appreciate the potential market which is so vast and that is why they have agreed that even without our ability to contribute 15 percent they are prepared to pay the entire sum of $550 million for the procurement of the two new satellites for Nigeria.
“The Chinese are not just going to market our satellite to the entire African continent… so we are considering, perhaps by legislation, insisting that all Nigerian entities patronise the Nigerian satellite company rather going to Israel, UK, US for satellite services.”
He said work on making the satellite, which is expected to last for two years, would start soon.
“It takes two years to produce because it is when we sign the papers that they will start production. We hope that before the end of this month, we will sign the papers and then they will commence the production. It is the completion of the production that the two satellites will be launched.
“So, they are paying that to finance these highly required facilities and we will agree on the percentage sharing. Of course, Nigeria has nothing to lose because we are not putting anything into it in terms of financial resources.”