Nigeria is still wrestling with space program issues. On the one hand (and according to this difficult to read post), there seems to be a fundamental lack of knowledge by the general Nigerian population about how satellites work in space. This is no surprise–the Nigerians are dealing with some very real third world survival problems. Even in first world countries, like the US, there are still full-grown citizens who still have difficulty understanding satellite basics.
But on the other hand, according to this AllAfrica.com post. the Nigerian government is also having problems (probably because of the same misunderstanding AND some economic questions) getting basic satellite assembly and test facilities up and running. Now, there have been previous posts regarding Nigeria’s handling of questions regarding why Boko Haram kidnappers haven’t been found by Nigerian imagery satellites. Especially when there’s been a lot of money spent on the program. In that same post, I attempted to explain why those satellites would be unlikely to find the kidnappers and girls.
But it does look like the Nigerian Center for Satellite Technology Development (CSTD) is facing those same questions all over again. And it also looks like they haven’t been doing a great job getting their story out to the citizens of Nigeria. The lack of very basic and clear storytelling about the Nigerian satellite program is probably why they are unable to get the funds to construct the Assembly Integration and Testing (AIT) centers for building satellite payloads (and perhaps satellites later on).
The AllAfrica.com post also lists some other countries who were able to build AIT centers. One of the ones that stood out was Turkey. Turkey apparently has a fairly big AIT center (who knew?), and has the trained people to successfully build satellite payloads that will be integrated into a satellite bus and launched on a Russian rocket. Will the resulting images of their capitol from their payloads be of Istanbul or Constantinople?
But back to Nigeria. Their CSTD program has a messaging problem and a money problem. The messaging is easy to fix. But the money will always be a problem so long as the country stays extremely poor. Will Nigeria change this, and will that change make a difference? Even space programs in “rich” nations, like the US and Canada, face money problems. And perhaps the poor citizens of poor countries are probably a bit more interested in where the money they’re paying is going. If, as in this case, the satellites don’t appear to be producing a tangible benefit (even though they are doing exactly what they were designed to do), then the badly told story, mixed with the money, is going to have people question the program’s validity.