ABUJA (AFP) — A Nigerian satellite heralded at its launch last year as being at the vanguard of an African communications' revolution has had to be shut down due to technical problems, officials said Wednesday.
The satellite -- which was launched to provide phone, broadband Internet and broadcasting services to rural Africa -- was switched off on Monday for analysis, they said, dismissing media speculation it was lost in outer space.
"NigComSat-1 is not missing, but rather powered down at about 10:00 am (0900 GMT) Monday... when we observed abnormal battery discharge in a non-eclipse situation," Nigerian Communications Satellite Limited said in a statement.
"The satellite was put into an emergency mode operation in order to effect mitigation and repairs," the statement added.
The 257-million-dollar (205-million-euro) Chinese-built satellite was launched into space from China in May 2007.
It was expected to boost Nigeria's communications' revolution and further the drive to make Internet technology accessible to the remote rural villages of the continent.
NIGCOMSAT-1 is also used for intelligence and security surveillance and for other sectors such as the oil and gas industry.
With an expected life span of 15 years, it is designed to operate in Africa, parts of the Middle East and Asia. Nigeria also launched a weather satellite in 2003 with Russian assistance.
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