Nigerian Satellite launched by China
The official Xinhua news agency says it is the first time that a foreign buyer has purchased both a Chinese satellite and its launching service.
The Nigerian Communication Satellite NIGCOMSAT-1 is expected to offer broadcasting, telecommunications and broadband internet services for Africa.
China beat 21 other bidders for the $311m contract to launch the satellite in 2004, Xinhua says.
The satellite, launched by a Long March 3-B rocket, is expected to reach its final position later this year and to remain in operation for 15 years.
The launch is being portrayed as part of a drive to enhance rural access to technology and the internet and boost Nigeria’s and Africa’s knowledge economy.
“It gives you bandwidth to enable you to communicate from point A to point B, from rural Africa to urban cities,” Dr Bashir Gwandu, a member of the Satellite Launch Committee and a director at the Nigeria Communications Commission told the BBC’s Focus on Africa.
Nigeria has been experiencing a communications revolution in recent years, says the BBC’s Alex Last, and is one of the fastest growing mobile phone markets in Africa and the world.
Having a space programme is also symbolic of how Nigeria wants to be seen as a growing player on the world stage
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