The Federal Government has signed the Artemis Accord, a multinational set of principles, guidelines and best practices that provide a common framework for responsible, transparent, safe and sustainable civil space exploration.
The Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Prof. Isa Pantami who signed the accord for Nigeria, also announced a partnership with Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) to provide broadband access across the country.
These two events took place at the ongoing US-Africa Leaders’ Forum (USALF), in Washington DC, United States of America. The summit, hosted by President Joe Biden of the United States, brought together leaders from across Africa.
Pantami signed the accord on December 13, 2022, at the US-Africa Space Forum – a side event at the USALF – to signal Nigeria’s participation in the next phase of space exploration to be coordinated by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).
Also, President Paul Kagame announced Rwanda’s endorsement of the accord. President Paul Biya of Cameroon, NASA Administrator Bill Nelson and the deputy secretary of commerce, Mr. Don Graves also spoke at the event.
Nigeria and Rwanda were the first two African countries to sign the accord and the 22nd and 23rd in the world, respectively.
Commenting on the development, the NASA administrator, Bill Nelson said: “I’m thrilled Nigeria and Rwanda are committing to the safe, sustainable use of outer space. In an era where more nations than ever have space programmes, today’s signings highlight a growing commitment to ensuring space exploration is conducted responsibly.
“As the first African nations to sign the Artemis Accord, Nigeria and Rwanda exemplify the global reach of the accord and are demonstrating their leadership in space exploration.”
Artemis Accord was established by NASA in 2020, as a set of principles to guide the next phase of space exploration, reinforcing and providing for important operational implementation of key obligations in the 1967 Outer Space Treaty. The accord also serves to reinforce the commitment of the United States and signatory nations to the Registration Convention, the Rescue and Return Agreement, as well as guidelines and best practices NASA and its partners have supported, including the public release of scientific data.
The minister also announced Nigeria’s partnership with SpaceX, having approved their application as a high throughput satellite (HTS), low-Earth orbit (LEO) operator in the Nigerian telecommunications sector.
As part of the partnership, Space X is to provide broadband access across Nigeria, enabling nationwide access to broadband connectivity ahead of the December 2025 schedule, “as outlined in our National Broadband Plan. With this collaboration with SpaceX’s Starlink, Nigeria is set to be the first African country to introduce the service. The nationwide rollout shall take place before the end of 2022, after the conclusion of a few administrative processes,” Pantami assured the leaders.
A statement by the minister’s technical assistant on research and development, Dr. Femi Adeluyi said the ministry will continue its committed implementation of the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy (NDEPS) to ensure that Nigeria’s digital economy remains a leading light.
In addition to Nigeria, 22 other countries – Australia, Bahrain, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, France, Israel, Italy, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Luxembourg, Mexico, New Zealand, Poland, Romania, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Ukraine, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom and the United States – have now signed the accord.