Saturday 12th June 2021
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NigComSat-1R powers first African, Indian Ocean strategic satellite navigation service

NigComSat-1R, the Nigerian Communication Satellite, is successfully utilising its L-band/ SBAS payload as the backbone in a partnership between NIGCOMSAT Ltd, Thales Alenia Space and the Agency for Air Navigation Safety in Africa, and Madagascar, ASCENA to provide a Satellite-Based Augmentation System (SBAS) that broadcasts signals over the Africa and the Indian Ocean (AFI) region.

The NigcomSat-1R

This aims to provide the first SBAS open service in this part of the world on NigComSat-1R satellite, a communications satellite managed and operated by NIGCOMSAT Ltd under the Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy of Nigeria.

The open service is provided as part of the “SBAS for Africa and Indian Ocean” programme, which pursues the autonomous provision over the continent of SBAS services to augment the performances of the satellite navigation constellations GPS and Galileo.

The system prototype uses a reference stations network, the SAGAIE network, deployed by CNES (National Centre for Space Studies, France) and ASCENA with the support of Thale Alenia Space.

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The signal is broadcast via the SBAS payload on NigComSat-1R and uplink station in Abuja (Nigeria). It is compliant with the standards and recommended practices of the International Civil Aviation Organisation and the Minimum Operational Performance Standard developed by the Radio Technical Commission for Aeronautics (RTCA) organisation. It will be visible in the whole of Africa and the Indian Ocean up to the West Australia coast and also in Europe.

Dr. Abimbola Alale, Managing Director/CEO, NIGCOMSAT Ltd., said: “We are proud to be part of this ambitious programme to provide satellite navigation services in the African and Indian Ocean region. The use of our geostationary communication satellite, NigComSat-1R navigation payload, to broadcast the first signal will be Africa’s premier communications satellite contribution to SBAS as a regional satellite-based augmentation system for the continent.”

SBAS Project Manager, Dr Lasisi Salami Lawal, said that the development would improve GPS accuracy to within a metre and boost integrity, availability, and continuity of safety-related applications.

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According to Dr. Lawal, the SBAS services would improve flight safety and efficiency in Africa, as well as support safety and commercial applications related to land, sea, and rail transportation which are beneficial to the economy.

The project manager further noted that the open service is essentially aimed at carrying out technical trials as well as partnering with airlines, field demonstrations for aircraft and rotorcraft, to demonstrate the benefits of the future operational safety-of-life SBAS services expected from 2024. It is expected to include Precise Point Positioning (PPP) and emergency warning service to populations, which performance will be proven through demonstrations.

“The signal-in-space is generated by a dedicated system tested and developed as part of the SBAS for Africa and Indian Ocean preliminary design phase, which is financed by the European Union and awarded to Thales Alenia Space, a joint venture between Thales (67%) and Leonardo (33%). The SBAS for Africa and Indian Ocean is based on the European EGNOS developed by the European Space Agency (ESA) acting under the delegation of the European Commission and operated by the European GNSS Agency GSA,” he added.

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The development, according to the satellite company, will leverage on the Nigeria digital policy as led by Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Ali Ibrahim, which among other things emphasised the implementation of the regional satellite-based augmentation system.

The SBAS service, which is one of the several socio-economic derivatives of NigComSat-1R, is expected to grow the GDP and value proposition not only in the communications sector but also in aviation, maritime, rail transport, precision agriculture, survey, oil and gas, security of strategic national infrastructure and mass-market applications for sustainable development within and beyond Nigerian shores.

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