Space Program of Nigeria

------The Nigerian Space Agency------


Level = 4                           Development: Very Low


Country Overview and Timeline

What has been happening in Nigeria?



Space Agency and its Activity

What kind of space power does Nigeria have?



Weapons and Power Projection

Does Nigeria have space weapons?




What is Nigeria planning?

Population: 132,000,000 / Language: English / GDP: $1200 / Cities: Lagos, Kano, Abuja

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After lurching from one military coup to another, Nigeria now has an elected leadership. But it faces the growing

challenge of preventing Africa's most populous country from breaking apart along ethnic and religious lines.

Political liberalisation ushered in by the return to civilian rule in 1999 has allowed militants from religious and ethnic groups to express their frustrations more freely, and with increasing violence.

Thousands of people have died over the past few years in communal rivalry. Separatist aspirations have been growing, prompting reminders of the bitter civil war over the breakaway Biafran republic in the late 1960s.

Politics: Parliament blocked moves to allow President Obasanjo to stand for third term in 2007. The army was the dominant political player until 1999

Economy: Nigeria is Africa's leading oil producer; more than half of its people live in poverty

International: Nigeria plays a prominent role in African affairs; has withdrawn troops from oil-rich Bakassi peninsula to settle border dispute with Cameroon

The imposition of Islamic law in several states has embedded divisions and caused thousands of Christians to flee. Inter-faith violence is said to be rooted in poverty, unemployment and the competition for land.

The government is striving to boost the economy, which experienced an oil boom in the 1970s and is once again benefiting from high prices on the world market. But progress has been undermined by corruption and mismanagement.

The former British colony is one of the world's largest oil producers, but the industry has produced unwanted side effects.

The trade in stolen oil has fuelled violence and corruption in the Niger delta - the home of the industry. Few Nigerians, including those in oil-producing areas, have benefited from the oil wealth.

Nigeria is keen to attract foreign investment but is hindered in this quest by security concerns as well as by a shaky infrastructure troubled by power cuts.

  • Full name: The Federal Republic of Nigeria
  • Population: 130.2 million (UN, 2005)
  • Capital: Abuja
  • Area: 923,768 sq km (356,669 sq miles)
  • Major languages: English (official), Yoruba, Ibo, Hausa
  • Major religions: Islam, Christianity, indigenous beliefs
  • Life expectancy: 43 years (men), 43 years (women) (UN)
  • Monetary unit: 1 Nigerian naira = 100 kobo
  • Main exports: Petroleum, petroleum products, cocoa, rubber
  • GNI per capita: US $560 (World Bank, 2006)
  • Internet domain: .ng
  • International dialling code: +234

President: Olusegun Obasanjo

Olusegun Obasanjo won a second term in April 2003, gaining more than 60% of the vote in Nigeria's first civilian-run presidential poll for 20 years. But opposition parties rejected the outcome, citing allegations of vote-rigging.

Nigeria's media scene is one of the most vibrant in Africa. State-run radio and TV services reach virtually all parts of the country and operate at a federal and regional level. All 36 states run their own radio stations, and most of them operate TV services.

The media regulator reported in 2005 that more than 280 radio and TV licences had been granted to private operators.

But TV stations in particular are dogged by high costs and scarce advertising revenues.

Radio is the key source of information for many Nigerians. Television viewing tends to be centred more in urban areas, and among the affluent. International radio broadcasters, including the BBC, are widely listened to.

There are more than 100 national and local newspapers and publications, some of them state-owned. They include well-respected dailies, popular tabloids and publications which champion the interests of ethnic groups. The lively private press is often critical of the government.

Media freedom improved under President Obasanjo. But restrictive decrees remain in force; in 2004 rebroadcasts of foreign radio stations were banned and concern was expressed over a proposed media law.

Citing high levels of violence, the media rights body Reporters Without Borders has said Nigerian journalists operate amid a "prevailing culture of brutality".


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Timeline of Events in Nigeria

circa 800 BC - Jos plateau settled by Nok - a neolithic and iron age civilisation.

circa 11th century onwards - Formation of city states, kingdoms and empires, including Hausa kingdoms and Borno dynasty in north, Oyo and Benin kingdoms in south.

1472 - Portuguese navigators reach Nigerian coast.

16-18th centuries - Slave trade: Millions of Nigerians are forcibly sent to the Americas.

1809 - Single Islamic state - Sokoto caliphate - is founded in north.

1830s-1886 - Civil wars plague Yorubaland, in the south.

1850s - British establish presence around Lagos.

1861-1914 - Britain consolidates its hold over what it calls the Colony and Protectorate of Nigeria, governs by "indirect rule" through local leaders.

1922 - Part of former German colony Kamerun is added to Nigeria under League of Nations mandate.

1960 - Independence, with Prime Minister Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa leading a coalition government.

General Abacha was accused of stealing some $3bn from state

1962-63 - Controversial census fuels regional and ethnic tensions.

1966 January - Balewa killed in coup. Major-General Johnson Aguiyi-Ironsi heads up military administration.

1966 July - Ironsi killed in counter-coup, replaced by Lieutenant-Colonel Yakubu Gowon.

1967 - Three eastern states secede as the Republic of Biafra, sparking bloody civil war. Biafra war: Attacks, blockade killed more than a million.

1970 - Biafran leaders surrender, former Biafran regions reintegrated into country.

1975 - Gowon overthrown, flees to Britain, replaced by Brigadier Murtala Ramat Mohammed, who begins process of moving federal capital to Abuja.

Obasanjo - first time round

1976 - Mohammed assassinated in coup attempt. Replaced by Lieutenant-General Olusegun Obasanjo, who helps introduce American-style presidential constitution.

1979 - Elections bring Alhaji Shehu Shagari to power.

1983 January - The government expels more than one million foreigners, mostly Ghanaians, saying they had overstayed their visas and were taking jobs from Nigerians. The move is condemned abroad but proves popular in Nigeria.

Ogoni anti-pollution campaigner, executed by military tribunal

1983 August, September - Shagari re-elected amid accusations of irregularities.

1983 December - Major-General Muhammad Buhari seizes power in bloodless coup.

1985 - Ibrahim Babangida seizes power in bloodless coup, curtails political activity.

1993 June - Military annuls elections when preliminary results show victory by Chief Moshood Abiola.

1993 August - Power transferred to Interim National Government.

Abacha years

1993 November - General Sani Abacha seizes power, suppresses opposition.

1994 - Abiola arrested after proclaiming himself president.

1995 - Ken Saro-Wiwa, writer and campaigner against oil industry damage to his Ogoni homeland, is executed following a hasty trial. In protest, European Union imposes sanctions until 1998, Commonwealth suspends Nigeria's membership until 1998.

1998 - Abacha dies, succeeded by Major-General Abdulsalami Abubakar. Chief Abiola dies in custody a month later.

1999 - Parliamentary and presidential elections. Olusegun Obasanjo sworn in as president.

2000 - Adoption of Islamic, or Sharia, law by several northern states in the face of opposition from Christians. Tension over the issue results in hundreds of deaths in clashes between Christians and Muslims.

2001 - Tribal war in Benue state, in eastern-central Nigeria, displaces thousands of people.

Safiya Husseini, acquitted after death sentence for adultery

In October, army soldiers sent to quash the fighting kill more than 200 unarmed civilians, apparently in retaliation for the abduction and murder of 19 soldiers.

2001 October - Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo, South African President Mbeki and Algerian President Bouteflika launch New Partnership for African Development, or Nepad, which aims to foster development and open government and end wars in return for aid, foreign investment and the lifting of trade barriers to African exports.

2002 January - Blast at munitions dump in Lagos kills more than 1,000.

Ethnic violence

2002 February - Some 100 people are killed in Lagos in clashes between Hausas from mainly-Islamic north and ethnic Yorubas from predominantly-Christian southwest. Thousands flee. City's governor suggests retired army officials stoked violence in attempt to restore military rule.

2002 March - Appeals court reverses death sentence against woman found guilty of adultery. Islamic court in north had ordered she be stoned to death.

Hausa-Yoruba tension on the streets of Lagos

2002 October - International Court of Justice awards the disputed Bakassi peninsula to Cameroon, but Nigeria is adamant that it will defend its right to the oil-rich area.

2002 November - More than 200 people die in four days of rioting stoked by Muslim fury over the planned Miss World beauty pageant in Kaduna in December. The event is relocated to Britain.

2003 12 April - First legislative elections since end of military rule in 1999. Polling marked by delays, allegations of ballot-rigging. President Obasanjo's People's Democratic Party wins parliamentary majority.

Obasanjo re-elected

2003 19 April - First civilian-run presidential elections since end of military rule. Olusegun Obasanjo elected for second term with more than 60% of vote. Opposition parties reject result. EU poll observers cite "serious irregularities".

2003 July - Nationwide general strike called off after nine days after government agrees to lower recently-increased fuel prices.

2003 August - Violence between Ijaw and Itsekiri people in Delta town of Warri kills about 100 people, injures 1,000.

Nigeria is a big oil exporter, but violence dogs the industry

2006: Nigerian oil fuels Delta conflict

2003 September - Nigeria's first satellite, NigeriaSat-1, launched by Russian rocket.

2004 January - UN brokers talks between Nigeria and Cameroon about disputed border. Both sides agree to joint security patrols.

2004 May - State of emergency is declared in the central Plateau State after more than 200 Muslims are killed in Yelwa in attacks by Christian militia; revenge attacks are launched by Muslim youths in Kano.

Trouble in the south

2004 August-September - Deadly clashes between gangs in oil city of Port Harcourt prompts strong crackdown by troops. Rights group Amnesty International cites death toll of 500, authorities say about 20 died.

2005 July - Paris Club of rich lenders agrees to write off two-thirds of Nigeria's $30bn foreign debt.

2005 October - All 117 passengers and crew are killed when a commercial airliner crashes on an internal flight. In December more than 100 people are killed when a passenger plane overshoots the runway at Port Harcourt.

2006 January onwards - Militants in the Niger Delta attack pipelines and other oil facilities and kidnap foreign oil workers. The rebels demand more control over the region's oil wealth.

2006 February - More than 100 people are killed when religious violence flares in mainly-Muslim towns in the north and in the southern city of Onitsha.

2006 April - Helped by record oil prices, Nigeria becomes the first African nation to pay off its debt to the Paris Club of rich lenders.

2006 May - More than 150 people are killed in an explosion at an oil pipeline near Lagos.

The Senate rejects proposed changes to the constitution which would have allowed President Obasanjo to stand for a third term in 2007.

2006 August - Nigeria hands over the disputed Bakassi peninsula to neighbouring Cameroon under the terms of a 2002 International Court of Justice ruling.

2006 October - The Spiritual leader of Nigeria's millions of Muslims, the Sultan of Sokoto, is killed in a plane crash, the country's third major civilian air disaster in a year.

2006 December - Explosion at a vandalised oil pipeline in Lagos kills more than 250 people.

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Nigeria's Space Agency:

Despite Nigeria being one of the world's poorest countries, it has a significant space program. In fact, it is the lowest country on the UN Human Development Index WITH a space agency. One interesting thing about this, testifying to one of globalizations effects, is that the program exists despite little university programming in space science. The University of Lagos, for example, does not confer degrees in astrophysics and astronautics. This state of affairs reflects a 'top-down' decision to call into existence an space agency despite grinding poverty and lack of educational infrastructure. Thus, Nigeria is a Level IV space power (Agency and Satellites) yet has few indigenous structures supporting it, making NASRDA completely dependent on outside technology and know-how. Newly created however, is a program called CASA (see below). 

Nigeria has the most advanced space program in Africa. While its agency, NASRDA, may not have grown organically in a nation technologically and socially ready for a space program, its government percieves space science and technology as beneficial on a larger scale to Nigerian society. In general, Nigeria sees itself as a 'the other' leader of Africa (becides South Africa), and instituted a governmental ministry devoted to hi-tech affairs in 1980: The Federal Ministry of Science and Technology. It is through this body's 'National Council on Space Science Technology' that the NASRDA works, having been founded in 1998. Many critics call a 'Nigerian Space Program' a rediculious waste of money for such a poor country, where 70% of the roads are dirt and villages outside of state capitals do not have water or electricity, and less than 1% of people have a phone. Many of the same charges leveled against India's Space Agency are even more forceful in the case of Nigeria. To this, the Abuja government says, "Critics may call in to question the rationale of a country struggling with issues such as food, security and debt relief launching an ambitious space program. However, it is important to realize that unless Nigeria seeks to develop on all levels simultaneously, after successfully resolving the immediate problems, the country will still find itself technologically behind and underdeveloped." While somewhat cryptic in its implication that 'all things should develop simultaneously,' a situation unlikely for any country, it offers hope that some of the problems of the 3rd World can be alleviated by way of investment in a space development program.



COMMAND CENTER: National Defence Ministry, Abuja.

RESEARCH CENTER: University of Nigeria Center for Atmospheric Sciences and Astronomy (CASA)

                                          (Atmosphere, Geomagnetism, Stellar Physics, Radio Astronomy and Cosmology)

RESEARCH CENTER: African Regional Center for Space Science is located at Obafemi Awolowo University

RESEARCH CENTER: Center for Space Science and Technology Education (CESSTE) for training professors in:

                                          (Remote sensing, satellite communication and gps, meteorological satellite applications)

SPACEPORT:                 None- Nigeria's satellite was launched by Russia  


Researchers at CESSTE





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As 'the leader of the black world' it has a responsibility militarily and civilly to do it by manufacturing components, fuel development and creation of a spaceport


Nigeria's Space-Industrial Complex- the machinery in the country using and producing space technology, is reproduced from

Geomatics Nigeria Limited; Associate of Terfa Inc. selected satellite images (SPOT, LANDSAT, JERS-1, and ERS-1) acquired between 1976 and 1995 to cover all of Nigeria and to analyse change over this period. Images were analysed at 1:150,000 and mapped at 1:250,000 using easi-pace and arc-info. Ground-truthing occurred in all habitat types and existing land use regions. A follow-up study was made in 1997-98, using RADARSAT and some further work was done in 1995-99 to map forest reserves in more detail. Environmental, geological, socio-economic, and land use data were collected and digitized.

Remotely sensed data have been used in many vector disease studies. In Kwara State, Nigeria, a temporal analysis of Landsat Thematic Mapper (TM) satellite data was used in 1992 to test the significance of the guinea worm eradication program based on changes in agricultural production.

The Interstate Forecasting Centre IFC was established in 1985 within the framework of HYDRONIGER Project for the benifit of the 9 Niger Basin Authority (NBA) member countries namely; Benin, Burkina-Faso, Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea, Mali, Niger, Chad, and Nigeria, with the financial assistance from Donor Organisations such as the UNDP , EEC and OPEC, while the WMO was the supervising agent. The IFC under the NBA, in Niamey (the Niger Republic), has it primary objectives to assist the riparian countries in protecting the life and goods of their citizen, to augment food security and hydro-power, minimising the catastrophic effect of draught and flood. It's immediate objective was to establish a real time hydrological forecasting system covering river Niger and it's major tributaries. The Centre is equipped with an Argos Station Direct Receiver (ASDR) which, through NOAA satellites using ARGOS teletansmiting system, receives numerical signals emited by the Data Collection Platforms (DCP) that were stationed along the river Niger and its major tributaries. These DCP measure the fluctuation of river stage (depth). The frequency of reception by the ASDR from ARGOS satellite is usually between 3 to 5 times daily.

Ilorin, Nigeria (ILO) [Lat - 8.53, Lon - 4.57] is a CERES ARM Validation Experiment [CAVE] station which is part of the Baseline Surface Radiation Network (BSRN) under the World Radiation Monitoring Center (WRMC). BSRN is a project of the World Climate Research Programme (WCRP) aimed at detecting important changes in the earth's radiation field which may cause climate changes. At a small number of stations (fewer than 40) in contrasting climatic zones, covering a latitude range from 80°N to 90°S (see station maps), solar and atmospheric radiation is measured with instruments of the highest available accuracy and at a very high frequency (minutes).

The forerunner of NASA's Deep Space Network was established in January 1958, when JPL, then under contract to the U.S. Army, deployed portable radio tracking stations in Nigeria, Singapore, and California to receive telemetry and plot the orbit of the Army-launched Explorer 1, the first successful U.S. satellite. NASA was officially established on October 1, 1958, to consolidate the separately developing space-exploration programs of the Army, Navy, and Air Force into one civilian organization.

Because the Mercury orbital flight program required effective ground control during the unmanned and manned phases, a worldwide tracking and telemetry network was developed. Early in the project, the requirements for the network in terms of systems, installation, site locations, testing, and training for network personnel were established. Throughout the Mercury-Atlas orbital flight program, the Mercury Worldwide Network provided adequate and timely support in each of its charged responsibilities. The network was expanded to include the switching, conferencing, and monitoring (SCAMA) voice capability to Canary Island, Kano, Zanzibar, Canton Island, the Rose Knot Victor, and the Coastal Sentry Quebec. The tight schedule made it impossible to stagger construction at the various stations. Although first construction operations were not started until April 29, 1960, all stations were under construction by midsummer, and construction was completed at the last station in Kano, Nigeria, in March of 1961. Kano [ call signal KNO] was in northern Nigeria, about 845 km (525 mi) from the major seaport, Lagos, on the Gulf of Guinea. Most buildings were constructed of prefabricated galvanized sheet metal supported by rigid steel frames. In addition to the buildings housing electronic equipment, most stations contained power buildings, cooling towers, air handlers, water chillers, and hydropneumatic tanks. Diesel generators were installed to produce power to back up commercial power.

In August 1963, USNS Kingsport, the world's first satellite communications ship, relayed the initial live broadcast of a telephone conversation between Prime Minister Balawa in Nigeria and President John F. Kennedy in Washington via Synacom -- one of the first synchronous satellites launched.

The National Library of Medicine (NLM) at the NIH is carrying out a plan to enhance electronic communication facilities at major research sites in Africa, including the provision of informatics training. A VSAT (very small aperture terminal) system was selected for those sites where no other means was possible to connect them to the internet. Red Wing Satellite solutions in London provides the equipment, hub and connection to the internet via satellite. Proposed future installation sites include; the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research (WRAIR)/KEMRI in Nairobi, also sites in Cameroon, Nigeria, Malawi, Uganda, Burkina Faso if sufficient funding can be obtained.

Nigeria's television market, once reserved for official channels, was deregulated in 1995, resulting in the formation of eight private stations, and more than 20 satellite redistribution companies. Similarly, radio stations have expanded from wholly government-owned stations to include three private stations in the Lagos area. Many stations utilize large satellite dishes and decoders to pull in transmissions for rebroadcast, providing unfair competition for legitimate public and private television stations.

Digital Satellite Radio (DSR) is one of the new and exciting broadcast technologies which relies upon geo-synchronous satellites to send a one-way digital signal. The broadcast carries hundreds of music, talk, and data channels. RANET uses one of the data channels to help send content useful to rural populations and the National Hydro-Meteorological Services and related national entities. The channel RANET uses is shared by a variety of content providers who covering issues such as agriculture, health, technology, and education. Broadcast capacity over Africa is provided to RANET through a partnership with the WorldSpace Foundation.

Since his election in May 1999 (and re-election in April 2003), President Obasanjo has been faced with ongoing inter-ethnic tensions and persistent political and ethnic strife in the Niger Delta region, including violence, kidnapping, sabotage and the seizure of oil facilities, often disrupts Nigerian oil production. In an effort to stop vandalism, the Nigerian government has ordered satellite equipment from the United States to monitor pipeline and oil installations in the Niger Delta region.

Nigeria is considered one of the most corrupt countries in the world by international watchdog groups. It is estimated that U.S. business and citizens lose an estimated $1 billion per year to fraud, scams, and corruption of various kinds in Nigeria. Nigeria is considered Africa's largest market for pirated products. Losses from inadequate intellectual property rights (IPR) protection, though difficult to quantify, are very substantial.

 Nigeria does not have the capability to independently launch space rockets.




NigeriaSat-1 launched in 2003 from Plestsek Cosmodrome in Russia


The country operates one $13,000,000 satellite: NigeriaSat 1. NigeriaSat 1 was built by Surrey Satellite Limited and was sent into Low Earth Orbit in 2003 by Russia. The satellite will conduct disaster management and warning operations. Interestingly, it is used as part of a greater satellite network with other states interested in disaster warning: Thailand, Algeria, China, Turkey and Vietnam. The maps generated using these satellites will be made available to disaster relief teams from these countries. Nigeria was the 3rd African country to gain a presence in space, after South Africa and Algeria. The real purpose of the satellite however, is its use by the government to monitor oil pipelines which are constantly broken into by people in order to steal fuel. The satellite is controlled from Central Command in Abuja.



The first satellite pictures of New Orleans' devastation came from NigeriaSat-1




 Official Description:


Nigeria's first satellite; disaster monitoring, urban planning and agriculture; part of Disaster Monitoring Constellation; five countries share all data.




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The government of Nigeria has much hope for NASRDA. A new communication satellite called NigcomSat 1 and an Earth Mapping satellite NigeriaSat 2 are being considered. Another communications satellite, NigeriaSAT 2 will lower the barriers to socioeconomic development by providing digital telecommunications coverage of Nigeria in its entireity.


Educationally, the national focus is turning to rocketry, satellite tech, satellite data acquisiton and processing. The national hi-tech industry focuses on these:

Remote Sensing to help Nigerians understand and manage our environment and natural resources using space-acquired information. This technology will enable us to better understand our land, air and water resources and their associated problems.

Finally, illustrative of the problems of Nigeria's move into space is the following piece from the NigeriaWorld Newspaper, "The satellite is a waste of money," said 21-year-old Gabriel Mordi, selling mobile-phone cards on a dusty street in Lagos, a city that is a colossal sprawl of millions of rusting tin-roof shacks and palm trees. "They should be helping the poor. Most people here are just struggling to find something to eat." In the northern city of Kano, barber Adamu Ahmed, 27, who was shaving a man in a blue, flowing robe on a sweltering street, said he was unaware of the launch since he had no radio or TV.

"They haven't told us much about space," he said. "I've heard of people going to the moon, but I don't know how they got there."

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