From Uche Usim, Abuja

The Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC) has pledged total support to the National Space Research and Development Agency (NASRDA) in its quest for effective satellite communication solutions in rural areas.

Acting Director General of the ICRC, Mr. Michael Ohiani gave the assurance when he received a team from the Space Agency led by its Director General Dr. Halilu Shaba, who came on a courtesy visit to the ICRC in Abuja on Wednesday.

The space agency is currently carrying out research in the field of broadband technology that will result in cost effective satellite system solutions in rural Nigeria through a Public Private Partnership (PPP) arrangement.

The project was designed as part of the solution towards meeting Nigeria’s aspiration of providing up to 90% of Nigerians with fast, affordable, reliable and high-speed broadband internet.

Speaking during the meeting, Ohiani disclosed; “I pledge to give him all the necessary support to ensure that many PPP projects will be brought to fruition from NARSDA,” he said.

Speaking further, Ohiani said that there were many areas of partnerships which the ICRC and the Space Agency can collaborate to explore.

In a presentation to the team from NASRDA, the ICRC pointed out that: “PPPS can support research and education, engineering development, design and manufacture, particularly in the areas of instrumentation, rocketry and small satellites development.

Other areas identified for such partnerships included: remote sensing, satellite meteorology, communications and information technology as well as defense and security.

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On his part, the DG of NARSDA commended the ICRC for analyzing the proposed project of NASRDA and making it take proper shape from research to commercial actualization.

“For us, ICRC is very pertinent to the infrastructure development of Nigeria, the Commission is also important to space science and technology development.

He said that the Federal Executive Council (FEC), recently said that Space science was a unique area and the government could not continue to fund all the space activities.

“If you look at space, it is not something that goes through normal budgetary allocations because of the kind of funds needed.

But we are committed and we are convinced because we believe that the money of the future will come from space science and that is why a lot of people are running to space and we want Nigerians to also benefit from this.

He said that Nigeria must embrace space technology and all its derivable benefits if it must maintain its number one position as the biggest economy in Africa.

He said that even the digital economy, which is being widely celebrated, relies on space technology, hence the need to pay more attention to its development.

“If we all believe that the digital economy is going to drive Nigeria into economic growth, then space technology must definitely be explored,” he said.

He called for more interactions between the ICRC and NASRDA nationwide to achieve more development in the space technology sector.