NigComSat boss promises Nigerians more bandwidth, denies commission function duplication

Timasaniyu Ahmed-Rufai, Chief Executive of the Nigeria Communications Satellite Limited (NigComSat), has urged Nigerians to support the NigComSat Corporation Bill, claiming it will increase available bandwidth.

Ahmed-Rufai, speaking in Abuja, rebuked the assertion the bill could result in unhealthy competition between the corporation and operators in the private sector.

Instead, he said “the downstream sector will benefit immensely from the increased availability of bandwidth, and opportunities to partner with NigComSat for the delivery of services.”

According to Ahmed-Rufai, the corporation does not have domestic competitors since Nigeria does not have any other indigenous communication satellite operating firms. Hence the corporation’s competition is foreign satellite operators.

“NigComSat is rather in competition with foreign [commercial] satellite operators such as YAHSAT, INTELSAT and SES NEW SKIES who also provide bandwidth for the Nigerian market. Rather than being called competitors, the private sector players are partners; so such fears are indeed misplaced,” he said.

HumanIPO reported in October the bill had passed a second reading and in November the ICT Publishers Alliance hosted a one-day event to promote awareness and understanding of the potential law.

NigComSat manages and operates communication satellites for commercial purposes and has the mandate to buy communication satellites from various sources for its business operations.

The Nigeria National Space Research and Development Agency (NASRDA), a government-owned research agency, implements the National Space Policy and develops indigenous capacity in basic space sciences.

Another assertion is the bill, when passed into law, will transform NigComSat into a regulating body. But according to Ahmed-Rufai, this is false as NigComSat is subject to the regulation of the commission that regulates Nigeria’s communications sector, the Nigerian Communication Commission (NCC).

“NigComSat and NASRDA are therefore complementary and provide a good synergy for the development of the domestic space industry and does not perform any regulatory functions in the area of broadcasting, satellite communications or frequency management; rather it remains subjected to the relevant regulators in each field,” he said.

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