ASECNA, Thales provide African early SBAS open service

September 21, 2020  - By

Service opens a new era of satellite navigation performance augmentation in the Africa and Indian Ocean Region

Photo:The Agency for Air Navigation Safety in Africa and Madagascar (ASECNA) has started to broadcast a satellite-based augmentation system (SBAS) signal over Africa and the Indian Ocean (AFI) region.

This is the first SBAS open service in this part of the world, according to Thales Alenia Space. The signal is broadcast via the NIGCOMSAT-1R satellite managed and operated by Nigerian Communications Satellite Ltd. under the Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy of Nigeria.

The early open service is provided as part of the “SBAS for Africa & Indian Ocean” program, which pursues the autonomous provision over the continent of SBAS services to augment the performances of the satellite navigation constellations GPS and Galileo.

With improved accuracy to within a meter — and boosted integrity, availability and continuity of safety-related applications — the SBAS services will improve flight safety and efficiency in Africa. It will also benefit the economy in land, sea and rail transport areas, as well as mass-market applications, supporting user safety, cost-effectiveness and sustainable development.

Early Service Goals

The launched open service aims to carry-out technical trials, and to undertake with partner airlines field demonstrations for aircraft to demonstrate the benefits of the future operational safety-of-life SBAS services, expected in 2024. It will also include early precise point positioning (PPP) and emergency warning service, both to be demonstrated.

The signal in space is generated by a dedicated system testbed, developed as part of the “SBAS for Africa and Indian Ocean” preliminary design phase, financed by the European Union and awarded to a Thales Alenia Space joint venture between Thales (67%) and Leonardo (33%). The system prototype uses the SAGAIE reference station network deployed by CNES and ASECNA with the support of Thales Alenia Space.

The signal is broadcast via the SBAS payload on Nigcomsat-1R GEO satellite of the Nigerian Communications Satellite and an uplink station deployed in Abuja (Nigeria). It is compliant to the Standards and Recommended Practices of the International Civil Aviation Organisation, and the Minimum Operational Performance Standard developed by the RTCA (Radio Technical Commission for Aeronautics) organization. It will be visible in the whole Africa and Indian Ocean, up to the West Australian coast, and also in Europe.

“We are proud to be part of this ambitious program to provide satellite navigation services in the Africa and Indian Ocean region. The use of our geostationary communication satellite Nigcomsat-1R navigation payload to broadcast the first signal will be Africa’s premier contribution to SBAS as a regional satellite-based augmentation system for the continent,” said Abimbola Alale, MD/CEO of NIGCOMSAT Ltd.

“Our long-standing expertise acquired with the development of EGNOS SBAS in Europe and KASS SBAS in Korea combined with our new leading-edge satellite positioning technologies makes Thales Alenia Space the ideal partner to best support countries to implement their own SBAS efficiently. The equatorial region represents also a key engineering challenge for such a system due to difficult ionosphere conditions, for which Thales Alenia Space has developed a proven solution,” said Benoit Broudy, vice president of the Navigation business at Thales Alenia Space in France.

“The provision of the first African SBAS early service is a crucial major step forward in the development of satellite navigation in the AFI Region, and in the deployment of the ‘SBAS for Africa and Indian Ocean’ system, the navigation solution for Africa by Africa. It demonstrates the ambition and commitment of ASECNA to enhance air navigation safety for the benefit of the whole continent, in line with my vision for the unification of the African Sky,” stated Mohamed Moussa, director general of ASECNA.


ASECNA is an international public organization. Its main mission is to provide air navigation services within an airspace of 16,500,000 square kilometers, divided into six flight information regions (F.I.R) as defined by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).

ASECNA also develops solutions for airport management, aviation infrastructure studies and construction, equipment maintenance, calibration of air navigation instruments and training for civil aviation staff.

Its 18 Member States are: Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Comoros, Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, France, Gabon, Guinea Bissau, Equatorial Guinea, Madagascar, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Senegal, Chad and Togo.

About the Author: Tracy Cozzens

Senior Editor Tracy Cozzens joined GPS World magazine in 2006. She also is editor of GPS World’s newsletters and the sister website Geospatial Solutions. She has worked in government, for non-profits, and in corporate communications, editing a variety of publications for audiences ranging from federal government contractors to teachers.