What Artemis Accord means to Nigeria


A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket with the Dragon capsule  Photo credit: REUTERS/Joe Skipper

By Emmanuel Elebeke

SpaceX: If Nigeria’s collaboration with SpaceX- Space Exploration Technology to improve broadband offerings is not cutting the bug for you, surely her signing of the Artemis accord alongside Rwanda and other African countries will certainly catch your attention.

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 reinforces 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.

Nigeria might not have achieved much in space exploration, but with the signing of Artemis Accord at the US-Africa Leaders’ Forum (USALF), ace in Washington DC, United States of America, Nigeria becomes a pace setter for the rest of Africa.

And in pursuit of its dream of achieving 70% broadband connectivity by 2025, the country is also partnering with Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) to provide broadband access across Nigeria.

Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Isa Pantami, signed the Accords to signal Nigeria’s participation in the next phase of space exploration to be coordinated by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).

He expressed optimism that the action would showcase Nigeria as global player in the global space sector.

The Summit is hosted by President Joe Biden of the United States and brought together leaders from across Africa.

Taking a cue from Nigeria, President Paul Kagame also 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, endorsing the partnership.

Nigeria and Rwanda were the first two African countries to sign the Accord and the 22md and 23rd in the world. The signing took place at the U.S.-Africa Space Forum- a side event at the USALF.

Speaking on the development, 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 programs, today’s signings highlight a growing commitment to ensure space exploration is conducted responsibly.”

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He also stated that “as the first African nations to sign the Artemis Accords, Nigeria and Rwanda exemplify the global reach of the accords and are demonstrating their leadership in space exploration.”

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 the whole of Nigeria, enabling nation-wide access to broadband connectivity way ahead of the December 2025 schedule, as outlined in our National Broadband Plan. With SpaceX’s Starlink, Nigeria is set to be the 1st African country to introduce the service.

Recall that recently, the National Council on Communications and Digital Economy, NCCDE chaired by the Minister also met at the University of Ibadan International Conference Centre, to discuss “Digital Innovation and Entrepreneurship as a Panacea for Challenges to Sustainable Economic Development in Nigeria’’.

The council meets every year to brainstorm on various memoranda submitted by stakeholders in the sector and chart a new policy direction for the country.

It was the 10th meeting of the NCCDE, meant to tweak old policies and design new ones from the input of various stakeholders in the space and satellite ecosystems. At the end of the meeting, the Council mandated the Nigerian Communication Satellite Limited to take the message of digital literacy program to the hinterlands.

The Council which is the highest body on Communications and Digital Economy in the Country comprised of Commissioners and Representatives of State Governments, Chairman of Boards and Chief Executives of Parastatals under the supervision of the Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy.

The Council, received a total of 111 memoranda out of which Seventy-Seven were considered and 34 were stepped down for various reasons

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