NIGERIA TO LAUNCH HOMEGROWN SATELLITES – NNAJI

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By Maymunah Zubair

Left: Chief Uche Nnaji; Right: Dr. Mathew Adegoke

The Honourable Minister, Federal Ministry of Innovation, Science, and Technology, Chief Uche Nnaji, has announced plans for Nigeria to launch satellites built by Nigerian scientists and engineers, with ground stations and data collecting centres, domiciled in Nigeria.

He made the statement in Abuja at a two day stakeholders’ workshop, organized by the European Union, in collaboration with NASRDA, on “AI, Big Data Analytics, Automation and Space Technology Application for Sustainable Development.”

Chief Nnaji stated that the President Tinubu led administration is working to launch satellites aimed at providing innovative space-based solutions to address the challenges facing the country.

The Minister said the government is committed to actualizing this feat as it will be utilized in various areas such as security, pipeline monitoring, food security in agriculture as well as diverse sectors that will be beneficial to the sustainable development of our nation.

Chief Nnaji added that artificial intelligence is one of the primary focus of the Ministry and said it will support NASRDA in it’s activities, for the advancement of satellite technology.

He therefore encouraged participants at the workshop to actively share insights that will be strategically beneficial to the collaboration, adding that there is the need to develop practical solutions that can be implemented for the greater good of Nigerians.

Earlier in his remark, the Director General, National Space Research and Development Agency (NASRDA), Dr. Matthew Adepoju, while appreciating the Minister for gracing the occasion, assured the Minister that there are competent and capable crop of engineers and scientists that can build, launch, and operate the proposed satellites in the Agency.

He stated that the Agency is prepared to take all necessary measures to continue providing space-based solutions to the country’s challenges, adding that the application of Artificial Intelligence and Robotics is a critical factor in satellite technology today.

The NASRDA boss pointed that the Space Agency is a leader in Artificial Intelligence and Robotics and is open to collaborating with all stakeholders in related fields to significantly reduce poverty and enhance agricultural productivity.

He noted that while satellite technology is often considered elitist, it plays a crucial role in advancing agriculture, security, and other essential sectors of the nation.

Speaking at the event, Dr. Abdullahi Mustapha, Director General of the Energy Commission, congratulated the Director General of NASRDA on his recent appointment pledging his support for him as he drives the leadership of the Agency.

Also speaking at the event, the Programme Officer at the European Delegation to Nigeria and Ecowas Dr. Iuri Aganetto said the primary focus of the workshop is to explore the transformative potential of space technology, artificial intelligence, and big data analysis in enhancing agricultural practices for security in Nigeria.

He said, by leveraging cutting-edge technologies, critical challenges in climate-smart agriculture and environmental management can be addressed, thereby contributing to the resilience and sustainability of Nigeria’s agricultural sector.

In a joint presentation, representative of the European Space Agency, Dr. Zoltan Szantoi, and NASRDA’s Dr. Idris Jega, gave a seven-point concept note on the theme of the workshop.

According to the presentation, the workshop is aimed at enhancing NASRDA’s AI expertise for remote sensing data analysis, which is critical for advanced agriculture and environmental monitoring.

The presentation further stressed that the workshop also purposes to generate evidence to enable informed decision-making in agriculture and environmental management, aligning with technological trends and addressing needs with precision and accuracy.

Participants were drawn from various agencies of government and non-governmental organizations.

In a press statement made available to the media by Dr. Felix Ale, Director of Media and Corporate Communications at NASRDA, the collaboration and discussions at the workshop are expected to significantly contribute to Nigeria’s technological and agricultural advancements.