A team of senior Nigerian government officials has concluded a study visit of the EU Global Navigation Satellite System (EGNSS) in Spain, with funding from the European Union, under its Partnership Instrument. Organised by the Technical Assistance and Information Exchange Instrument of the European Commission (TAIEX), the visit was hosted by the Government of Spain between 13th and 16th May, 2019. It served as a platform to explore the potential benefits and applications for Nigeria and West Africa of the EU satellite navigation systems, namely Galileo and the European Geostationary Navigation Overlay Service (EGNOS).
EGNOS is the pan-European satellite navigation system, which augments the GPS satellite navigation system and makes it suitable for safety-critical applications such as flying aircraft or navigating ships through narrow channels. Galileo is an independent satellite positioning system, developed by the EU, which recently entered its operational phase alongside older systems like GPS.
The study visit was a follow-up to a visit to Nigeria by European Commission officials in May 2019, during which relevant Nigerian authorities and stakeholders, also from the private sector, were given an overview of Galileo and EGNOS.
The visiting Nigerian team comprised Professor Seidu Mohammed, Director-General of National Space Research & Development Agency (NASRDA); Mrs Abimbola Alale, CEO of NIGCOMSAT (the state company that operates Nigerian telecommunications satellites); and a representative of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA).
The Spanish authorities put together an intense programme that showcased Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) institutional applications. The programme included visits to the EGNOS Service Centre, the Spanish National Institute for Aerospace Technology (INTA)/GNSS Service Centre, ADIF High Speed Circulation Regulation Centre, National Maritime Coordination Centre, Airbus Defense & Space, GMV, and Thales Alenia Space-España. Several presentations were delivered, followed by interactive discussions, on topics such as: Performance-Based Navigation (PBN) in airports and air space; EGNOS landing procedures in airports, as well as other uses of GNSS; Governmental communication satellites, and applications in various industries. The presentations on Aviation and Railway traffic management, EGNSS, and application development elicited a great deal of interest. The Nigerian team was actively involved in presentations, demonstrating interest and good knowledge of the topics discussed.
During the interactive session, the Nigerian participants underlined the importance of a regional approach to developing Satellite-based Augmentation Systems (SBAS) and the role that Nigeria could play in this approach. They also underlined the need to establish cooperation between the Agency for Air Navigation Safety in Africa and Madagascar (ASECNA) and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).
The Nigerian delegation was provided with the available information on the economic benefits of EGNSS, on the basis of which a joint report will be submitted to the Nigerian Space Science and Technology Council, with a proposal on how to take forward Satellite-based Augmentation Systems (SBAs) development.
As a follow-up to the study visit, the European Commission is planning to organise a seminar in Abuja in the second half of 2019, for the upper layers of government to present Galileo and EGNOS as well as existing possibilities for cooperation.