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ABUJA, Jan 3 (Reuters) - Nigeria has agreed a $550-million deal to buy two Chinese communications satellites and hopes to sign the contract before the end of the month, the communication minister said on Wednesday.
Adebayo Shittu said China Exim Bank and the manufacturer, China Great Wall, have agreed to pay for the new satellites after Nigeria renegotiated an earlier deal that had required it to cover 15 percent of the cost.
“This is a very big business opportunity ... which is ... why they have agreed that even without our ability to contribute 15 percent they are prepared to pay the entire sum of $550 million for the procurement of the two new satellites for Nigeria,” Shittu told reporters in the capital Abuja.
He said the satellite will be launched after a two-year production period starting from when the paperwork is signed.
The minister said the funds were not a loan but the Chinese company will take an equity stake in Nigcomsat, a limited liability company owned the Nigerian government and responsible for managing satellite communications.
Both parties will agree on a percentage share, Shittu said, adding that Nigeria “has nothing to lose because we are not putting anything into it in terms of financial resources.”
Shittu said the Chinese would help market satellite communication services to other African countries which would compete with current providers from Israel, Britain and the United States.
“The first thing is that we want to make a profit, we want to capture the local market and we also want to capture the African market,” he said. (Reporting by Felix Onuah; Writing by Chijioke Ohuocha; Editing by Adrian Croft)