President Muhammadu Buhari, Thursday expressed a renewed commitment to the space sector, describing it as the foundation of cyber security and a vibrant digital economy.
The President, who spoke at a meeting with members of the National Space Council of the National Space Research and Development Agency (NASRDA) at the State House in Abuja said: “Today therefore, marks another milestone in our resolve to effectively utilize Space Science and Technology in tackling some of our critical challenges.
“No doubt Space is providing a new frontier for human development. As a stimulus for increased technological advancement and economic innovation, outer space offers a unique challenge and platform for effective exploration and exploitation of our natural resources and the protection of our environment.
“Moreover, space technology remains the foundation for cyber security and a vibrant digital economy.”
To this end, President Buhari asked Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu, the Minister of Science and Technology to prepare and submit to the Federal Executive Council for consideration and approval, “a revised 25-year roadmap for the implementation of the National Space Policy.”
“I also acknowledge the huge human resources already acquired by Nigeria in the field of Space Science and Technology over the last twenty-one years and the need for the country to put in place the necessary infrastructure required for the actualization of the goals and objectives of our National Space Policy and Programme.
“Being the recipient of very strong government support, I also must task you with the mandate of working with other agencies and components of government on how you could best utilize the tools at your disposal in resolving some of those critical issues that confront us as a country; issues regarding security, improved communication and digital penetration and importantly, agriculture.
“In line with the implementation of the National Space Policy and Programme, I hereby also direct that the revised 25-year Roadmap for the implementation of the National Space Policy be reviewed and updated and then forwarded to Federal Executive Council, for consideration and approval.
He urged the Agency to engage in partnerships with other relevant stakeholders and the private sector to achieve its objectives:
“Additionally, you should seek to explore useful collaboration with the Private Sector on how you can best commercialize some of your output in furtherance of our objectives.
“The present administration is committed to developing our society by engaging relevant human resources for the socio-economic improvement of our nation. We shall be steadfast in providing the required support towards the success of the space programme; as well as relevant resources needed for its growth and successful realization of the mandates of the Nation’s Space Agency.”
While commending NARSDA for the satellites already launched, the President charged the Chief Executive Officer of the Agency to do more: “I am very proud of the strides we have achieved with the launch of NigeriaSat-1, NigeriaSat-2, Nigcomsat-1R and NigeriaSat-X. Of tremendous interest to me is NigeriaSat-X which was designed and built to flight standards by our engineers and scientist.
“I expect you to drive your team towards the attainment of these goals which deepens your relevance in our national construct, while inspiring millions of our Youth to explore the opportunities in this field.”
The Chief Executive Officer/ Director General of NASRDA, Dr Halilu Ahmed Shaba who updated the meeting on the status of the NigeriaSat-2 and the progress made on building and launching of a Synthetic Aperture Radar (Nigeria SAR-1) and on Optical Earth Observation Satellite (NigeriaSat-3) craved for intensified funding of the agency’s activities in order to achieve the set objectives.
He also gave a detailed briefing on the agency’s support to the Military in their fight against terrorists, the “geovisualisation “ of terrorist activities; providing digital support for agriculture and several other capabilities in population activities, distribution of infrastructure and projects monitoring.