Thursday, 16 June 2011

International Aid Isn't Rocket Science

I thought the UK only gave aid to two developing countries with space programmes, India and Pakistan. It turns out that that millionaire Andrew Mitchell  MP's Department for International Development gives £250 million  per year to Nigeria. Nigeria spends about £25 million per annum on its space agency, NASRDA,  part of the Federal Ministry of Science, Technology (and soon to be Innovation). NASRDA was established in 1999 by Act of Parliament. In 2001 Nigeria adopted a National Space Policy.

The Agency is headquartered on Airport Road, Abuja and started with 15 post-graduate students sent in 2001 to Surrey Satellite Technology in Guildford for two years for training. In 2004 a contract was signed with China for the construction and launching of the £230 million NigComSat1 which sadly failed in late 2008. Still, a replacement NigComSat1R will be lauched from Russia later this year. In addition, NigeriaSat1 was launched in 2003 and will be replaced by NigeriaSat2 this year. Going into orbit at the same time is NigeriaSat-X, the first satellite designed and built by Nigerian scientists supervised by SSTL.

The BBC is in favour of the Nigerian Space Programme, of course.

£25 million per year in a country where 100 million people live on £1 a day. The actual budget proposed for 2011 is Naira 6, 383,991,333 and currently one gets about N250 to £1.  How one finds the actual amount is almost a space journey in itself. Here's the budget for 2011. At first glance it appears that only about £7 million is allocated to NASRDA Abuja  until one realises that there are six other branches as well.  And then NIGCOMSAT Ltd is also part of the Federal Ministry of Science and Technology. They're trying to cooperate.

The UK spends about £220 million per year on our space programme headquartered in Swindon. Nigeria hopes to put a Nigerian astronaut in orbit in 2015. So is this one that The Register reported  was stuck on Soyuz for fourteen years waiting for a return flight is a 419 scam?

One other thing that puzzles me: Why doesn't NASRDA have a interwebsite except this one? This one doesn't open.

1 comment:

James Higham said...

Nigerian Space Probe? My goodness.