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It has emerged today that the Nigerian satellite launched and run by Chinese firm China Great Wall Industry Corporation, is not lost as originally thought, but powered down as a result of faulty solar panels. This story caught interest in a number of publications worldwide probably due to the embarrassment it caused to both the Nigerian government and the Chinese operator. Nigerian officials confirmed today that there was a fault, but explanations neglected to explain whether that fault could be repaired.

However the Minister of State for Science and Technology, Dr. Alhassan Zaku confirmed that the project was safe as it was fully insured, meaning that if the satellite does turn out to be irreparable, another will be built and launched at no further cost to the Federal Government. Interestingly the news that the satellite was not lost was reported on Chinese state news, where the original story was not, while the Washington Post reported the fiasco as a failure in China’s wider commercial space projects.

Meanwhile Wu Bangguo’s tour of east Africa continued as he visited Madagascaryesterday, promising warmer relations in the future. This follows his visit of Ethiopiawhere similar meetings lead officials to similar declarations of friendship. The tour represents the continuance of China’s charm offensive on the continent even among the less economically or politically important countries. China is the only country in Africawith an embassy or commission in every African state.

The Chinese milk scandal rumbles on through Africa as it has merged that imports inTanzania are also contaminated with melamine. Beijing will be keen to see the end of this long running trouble as it serves to further enforce a perception of Chinese exports as poor quality, dangerous and recklessly under regulated.

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