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Rainfall Variability and Impact on
Communication Infrastructure in Nigeria
O.O. Obiyemi, T.S. Ibiyemi, and S.O. Akande
Abstract— Communication satellites remain a prominent backhaul communication infrastructure. It also provides a wide
coverage across the rural, sub-urban and urban areas. However, rainfall invokes a number impairments on satellite
communication links, particularly for operations within the microwave and millimeter wave bands. The resultant effect of its
variability has been evaluated on the viability of maintaining availability objectives, especially over long periods within which
satellites might be due for replacement and re-planning. 1-min rainfall rates has been deduced from 30 years daily rainfall data,
sourced from the Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NIMET) for 19 stations across Nigeria. The equivalent decadal point rainfall
rates (mm/hr) were estimated from the mean rainfall accumulations over three decades using the procedure proposed by
Chebil, while the rain attenuation (dB) was subsequently predicted using the ITU-R P.618-10 model for direct to home (DTH)
reception at 12 GHz. Results indicate that the slight variation observed on the point rain rate statistics only accounts for little
variation in the rain induced attenuation over the link, through the years and across the decades. Hence the variation is
negligible at higher percentages of the time (typically between 0.1 and 1% of the time) as is the case across the climatic regions
ranging from Arid to the Coastal areas. Results indicate that effects at 99 and 99.9% availability is negligible across the selected
sites. It also reveals a slight variation at 99.99% of the time, which indicates a variation of about 1 dB at Calabar (Forest belt)
and Ibadan (Wooded Savannah), while variation remains negligible at Maiduguri (Sahel), Jos (Sudan-Sahel) and Ilorin (Guinea
Sudan) over the decades. The variation of about 1.4 dB was recorded at Calabar, 0.8 dB at Maiduguri, 1.3 dB at Ibadan, while
variation remain negligible at 99.999% in Jos and Ilorin across the decades. Although it is apparent that the variation observed
in rainfall intensity produces corresponding variation in the rain attenuation across the decades and over the years, this has no
significant effect on communication link design, particularly over any particular location and over the years. Hence due to the
short lifespan of satellite vehicles in the geostationary orbit, availability objectives can be maintained, provided no technical
parameter is altered when satellites are being replaced.
Index Terms— availability objective, communication infrastructure, rain attenuation, raifall variability
ainfall is a natural phenomenon with non-uniform
structure. Its variability in time, space, duration and
frequency of occurrence dictates the need for the
knowledge of its dynamics, particularly as required for
quantifying its effect on radiowaves at frequencies be-
yond 10 GHz . The scattering, absorbing and depolariz-
ing impact on signal propagations in microwave and mil-
limeter wave bands remain a major concern for satellite
and terrestrial link designs.
Recent technological advancements such as the inter-
net-of-things (IOT) actually suggests the need for in-
creased broadband connectivity and penetration. This is a
rising demand for the connectivity of personal devices
and appliances. In order to meet this demand, a number
of infrastructures are currently in use as backhaul for reli-
able service delivery. Communication satellite links, ter-
restrial microwave links and fiber optic links (undersea
and hinterland) are typical examples. However, due to
the wide and expansive coverage offered by communica-
tion satellite, it’s been a prominent infrastructure for
communication backhauling globally. It has also been
broadly explored in bridging the existing digital divide
across the urban, sub-urban and rural areas, particularly
for the deployment of digital television, even in Nigeria.
Seemingly, communication satellites has served and
continues to serve a host of applications ranging from
direct-to-home (DTH), broadband service provision with
extended applications in telemedicine, e-learning (virtual
libraries and virtual laboratories), e-banking, e-commerce,
e-agriculture, e-governance, e-voting and in surveillance
in community policing and military missions [2, 3]. In
recent years however, its impact on home entertainment
has been tremendous. It has enhanced television viewing
experience with the provision of sharply defined images
and quality sound to subscribers, either on the free or pay
subscription platforms. Moreover, it also serve as the
main backhaul infrastructure for the distribution of digi-
tal television contents to cable TV operators and terrestri-
al television operators for onward distribution terrestrial-
ly within their respective coverage.
Interestingly, satellite links are designed based on de-
fined availability objectives, which varies from one satel-
lite operator to the other and from one application to the
other. Since 100% link availability may be not be practica-
ble at the microwave and millimeter wave bands, even for
mission critical applications, link design is therefore de-
• Obiseye O. Obiyemi is a lecturer at Osun State University Nigeria and He
is currently working towards his Ph.D at the University of Ilorin, Nigeria.
• Tunji S. Ibiyemi is a Professor at the Department of Electrical and Elec-
tronic Engineering, University of Ilorin, Nigeria
• Akande O. Samuel is a GIS Analyst with the Centre for Space Research
and Applications (CESRA) at the Federal University of Technology, Akure,
Ondo State Nigeria.
signed based on achievable availability objectives ranging
between 99.999, 99.99, 99.9 and 99% - which corresponds
to 5.26, 52.56, 525.6 and 5256 minutes in that order. This
indicates the time in a typical year when the link may not
However, the lifespan of a typical satellite ranges be-
tween 12-15 years, thereby indicating early planning for
replacement around the 10
year of a particular satellite
in orbit. Hence in order to maintain designed perfor-
mance for satellite links operating in the microwave and
millimeter wave bands, the prediction of the attenuation
induced by rain is important and it depends on the
knowledge of the rainfall rate or the rain drop size distri-
In this paper, we investigate the impact of the tem-
poral variability of rainfall on link availability objectives
for NIGCOMSAT 1-R.
2 RAIN RATE MODELS
The attenuation due to rain can be modelled on a wireless
link using the rain drop size distribution, rainfall rate or
the cell size structure. The dearth of precipitation data,
such as the drop size distribution and the cell size struc-
ture often limits the modeling of rainfall attenuation to
the use of the available rainfall data from meteorological
stations. Hence, for locations where direct rain rate data
do not exist, the knowledge of the rainfall intensity
(mm/hr) can be predicted based on suitable rain rate
model for a particular location.
Several approaches have been proposed for the prediction
of the cumulative distribution of the 1-minute rain-rate,
as required for the estimation of the attenuation induced
by rain on a radio path. Some of the prominent tech-
niques are those proposed by ITU-R , Moupfouma and
Martin , Kitami , Rice and Holmberg  and Chebil
Although the Moupfouma and Martin model is found
suitable for most tropical locations [1, 9, 10], the rain rate
at 0.01% is a major input parameter for this model and it
is not widely available over Nigeria. The input parame-
ters required for the use of the Rice-Holmberg model are
the average annual and the maximum monthly accumula-
tions over a period of 30 years, as well as the thunder-
storm ratio !, i.e. the ratio of thunderstorm rain to total
rain over a particular location. However, the major draw-
back to the use of the Rice-Holmberg model is the lack of
! from the local precipitation data over Nigeria . The
approach by Chebil however appears suitable for the es-
timation of the point rainfall rate, since it mainly depends
on the monthly rainfall accumulation, which is readily
available from rainfall data over Nigeria. It has thus been
broadly employed for the prediction of the rainfall inten-
sity [1, 10, 11], as required for the prediction of the atten-
uation induced by rain.
3 DATASET AND METHODS
For this study, rainfall data measured by the Nigerian
Meteorological Agency (NIMET) between 1975 and 2004
were obtained from a secondary source for 19 stations
across Nigeria. The daily rainfall statistics for 30-year data
were sorted for analysis. The years with more than three
months of missing data (especially those within the rain-
ing season - between March and October) were treated as
missing years and thus excluded from the dataset. The
detailed characteristics of the rainfall data is as shown in
The rainfall series for the observation period is broken
into 10 years interval, so as to examine the decadal varia-
bility of rainfall intensity and to establish the correspond-
ing implication on propagation link designs, especially
with respect to the possibility of maintaining availability
objectives. For the rain attenuation prediction, one site
was selected in each of the five climatic regions across
Nigeria. These locations are Maiduguri (Sahel), Jos (Su-
dan-Sahel), Ilorin (Guinea Sudan), Ibadan (Wooded Sa-
vannah) and Calabar (Forest Belt) and they serve as the
reception point (earth station) for digital television down-
link NIGCOMSAT-1R. Although NIGCOMSAT-1R is not
currently delivering digital DTH services, link design is
however based on digital DTH reception at 12 GHz. The
monthly rainfall accumulation (mm) was also used to
estimate the seasonal and spatial variability over the dec-
ades and across the chosen sites. Months with zero rain-
fall accumulation (mm) within the raining season were
discarded and thus not considered for the monthly deca-
© 2012 JOT
Table 1: Characteristics of the rainfall data over Nigeria
dal accumulation, which is obtained by averaging the
monthly rainfall (mm) across the number of years in each
The point rainfall rate (mm/hr) was estimated from the
average annual rainfall accumulation (mm) using
Chebil’s model, which offers a simple and alternative
procedure. It is expressed as :
is the point rainfall rate exceeded at 0.01%
of the time for a typical year, while
and 0.2973 respectively.
The rain induced attenuation on NIGCOMSAT-1R
downlink is estimated using the global ITU-R P.618-10
, which is mainly based on the following distinct pa-
rameters for each location: the point rainfall rate for 0.01%
of an average year (mm/hr), elevation angle ! in degrees,
the station latitude in degrees, the station altitude (km)
and the downlink frequency (GHz).
The rain induced attenuation downlink NIGCOMSAT-
1R at 0.01% of the time is therefore predicted using the
procedures detailed in :
0.01 0.01 E
A kR L
is the effective path length (km) – which is a
function of the horizontal reduction and the vertical
correction factors while k and ! are frequency and
polarization dependent factors as defined in .
The allenualion exceeded al olher ¡ercenlages of lhe
lime is eslimaled using |12j:
(0.655 0.033ln( ) 0.045ln( ) (1 )sin )
p A p
! " # + # # #
0; ! =
1% p =
36 ! "
Fig. 3: Monthly decadal rainfall accumulation in Ilorin
Fig. 1: Monthly decadal rainfall accumulation in Jos
Fig. 5: Monthly decadal rainfall accumulation in Maiduguri
Fig. 4: Monthly decadal rainfall accumulation in Ibadan
Fig. 2: Monthly decadal rainfall accumulation in Calabar
0.005 36 ; ! " = # #
1% p !
36 ! !
25 ! "
0.005 36 1.8 4.25 ; Sin ! " # = $ $ + $
From the data analyzed over the climatic regions across
Nigeria, results indicate that the highest monthly rainfall
accumulation (mm) is observed at Calabar in the month
of June over the first decade (1975 – 1984), as shown in
Fig. 2. The lowest monthly rainfall accumulation is how-
ever observed at Maiduguri in the month of April in the
third decade (1994 – 2004). This is shown in Fig. 5.
The monthly rainfall variability over the 30-year observa-
tion period is as shown in Fig. 1 for Jos (Sudan Sahel), Fig.
2 for Calabar (forest belt), Fig. 3 for Ilorin (Guinea Sahel),
Fig. 4 for Ibadan (Wooded savannah) and in Fig. 5 for
The point rain rate distribution across Nigeria was devel-
oped for each decade using the Golden Sulfer software,
while the contours were plotted using krigging method.
The areas with the darkest colour indicates the areas with
the highest point rain rate distribution values (from 114
mm/hr to 129 mm/hr). The contour lines serves as the
demarcation for a region (on the map) with its corre-
sponding point rain rate value. Fig. 6 shows the point rain
rate distribution estimated from the available dataset for
the first decade (1975 – 1984), while the point rain rate
distribution for the second and third decades are shown
Fig. 7 and Fig. 8 respectively. This clearly shows the spa-
tial variation of the rainfall intensity across Nigeria and
its temporal variation over the 30-year observation peri-
Although the dataset employed might be different
from those used in  and , results obtained for the
rainfall rates are similar to predictions in . This predic-
tion is also not in sharp contrast with those presented in
 for rain rates exceeded for 0.01% of the time, over
similar locations across Nigeria. It is worthy to note that
the technique employed for predicting the rain rate is
similar to the procedures used in , while the results in
 is based on the combined Moupfouma-Martin-Rice-
As the point rain rates decreased from the coastal re-
gions to locations in the arid region, predictions coincided
at 129 mm/hr for the first and second decades at Calabar
(coastal area), while it increased to 131 mm/hr in the
third decade. Similar predictions were also observed in
the central regions around latitude 10
North and Longi-
East over the first and second decades, while the
estimates rainfall rate increased by 2 mm/hr in the third
decade. Similar results were observed in the North-
Eastern region, where the rain rate predicted for the first
and second decades is about 79 mm/hr, while the predic-
tion for the third decade is 81 mm/hr.
The corresponding impact of the rainfall variation is as
presented in Fig. 9 through Fig. 13 over the chosen sites.
Results indicate that the slight variation observed on the
point rain rate statistics only accounts for little variation
in the rain induced attenuation over the decades. The var-
iation is negligible at higher percentages of the time (typi-
cally between 0.1 and 1% of the time) as is the case at
Fig. 6: Point rain rate distribution for decade 1 (1975 – 1984)
Fig. 7: Point rain rate distribution for decade 2 (1985 – 1994)
Fig. 8: Point rain rate distribution for decade 3 (1995 – 2004)
Maiduguri, Jos, Ilorin, Ibadan and Calabar. Predictions
for Calabar and Ibadan however indicates an obvious
variation at 0.001% of the time, especially between the
first and the third decade and between the second and
third decade. Interestingly, 99.99% availability (i.e. 0.01%
unavailability) can be maintained at Maiduguri, Jos and
Ilorin, with somewhat negligible variation across the dec-
The availability objective of 99.99% can also be main-
tained at Ibadan and Calabar, but with only a slight varia-
tion of about 1 dB between the first/third decades and the
second decade at Ibadan and 1 dB between the first/third
decade and the second decade at Calabar.
The impact of rainfall variability has been explored on
the possibility of maintaining availability objectives on
satellite communication links. The rain rate estimates
decreased considerably from the Coastal region to loca-
tions in the Arid region and the results obtained are simi-
lar to those presented in earlier contributions [1, 10, 14].
The corresponding impact of the observed spatial and
temporal rainfall variability was quantified on digital
DTH reception downlink NIGCOMSAT-1R at selected
locations across the five climatic regions. Results indicate
that effects at 99 and 99.9% availability is negligible
across the selected sites. It also reveals the slight variation
observed at 99.99% of the time, which indicates a varia-
tion of about 1 dB at Calabar and Ibadan, while variation
remains negligible at Maiduguri, Jos and Ilorin over the
decades. The variation of about 1.4 dB was recorded at
Calabar, 0.8 dB at Maiduguri, 1.3 dB at Ibadan, while
variation remain negligible at 99.999% in Jos and Ilorin
across the decades.
The spatial and temporal rainfall variability is appar-
ent as shown in the results obtained and the impact of
this variation has been quantified on radio communica-
tion planning. Results therefore indicate that designed
availability objectives can be maintained on satellite link
designs, particularly over decades within which commu-
nication satellites might be replaced due to the peculiar
and short lifespan.
Fig. 9: Cumulative distribution showing decade-decade rain attenuation
variability at Jos
Fig. 11: Cumulative distribution showing decade-decade rain attenua-
tion variability at Maiduguri
Fig. 13: Cumulative distribution showing decade-decade rain attenua-
tion variability at Ibadan
Fig. 10: Cumulative distribution showing decade-decade rain attenua-
tion variability at Calabar
Fig. 12: Cumulative distribution showing decade-decade rain attenua-
tion variability at Ilorin
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OBIYEMI Obiseye obtained B.Eng. and M.Eng. degree in Electrical
Engineering from University of Ilorin, Nigeria in 2006 and 2010 re-
spectively. He joined the Department of Electrical and Electronic
Engineering, Osun State University in 2010 and He is currently work-
ing towards the PhD degree from the Department of Electrical and
Electronic Engineering, University of Ilorin, Nigeria.
IBIYEMI Tunji Samuel obtained PhD Control Engineering from Uni-
versity of Bradford, Bradford, England in 1982. He is a full professor
of Electrical Engineering (computer & control) at the Department of
Electrical and Electronics Engineering, University of Ilorin, Ilorin,
Nigeria. His research interest is in biometric signal processing
and satellite system development.
AKANDE Samuel O. obtained a B.Tech degree in Meteorology from
the Federal University of Technology, Akure, Ondo State, Nigeria in
2011. He is currently working towards the Masters degree from the
African Regional Centre for Space Science and Technology Educa-
tion – English (ARCSSTE-E), Obafemi Awolowo University Campus,
Ile Ife, Nigeria. He joined the Centre for Space Research and Appli-
cations (CESRA) at the Federal University of Technology, Akure,
Ondo State Nigeria, as a GIS Analyst in 2012. He specializes in
Geographic Information Systems and Remote Sensing.
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