NASA, FG Fine-tune Collaborative Strategy on Space Exploration, Broadband Deployment

By Dwelleth Morountodun 

The Federal Government through the Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy has signed accord with Artemis and SpaceX exploration for broadband deployment and access across the country even as the exciting deal is coming under auspices of the United States (US) National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).

These events took place at the ongoing US-Africa Leaders’ Forum (USALF), taking place in Washington DC, United States of America.

The Summit was facilitated by President Joe Biden of the United States bringing leaders together from across Africa.

The Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Prof. Ibrahim Pantami, said the signing of the accords signposts Nigeria’s determination to participate in the next phase of space exploration to be coordinated by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).

President Paul Kagame of Rwanda and his Cameroun counterpart, President Paul Biya, also announced their endorsement of the accord.

NASA Administrator Bill Nelson and the Deputy Secretary of Commerce, Mr. Don Graves, who spoke at the event expressed excitement at the collaboration.

Nigeria and Rwanda were the first two African countries to sign the accord and the 22nd and 23rd in the world. 

The signing took place on the 13th of December 2022 at the U.S.-Africa Space Forum- a side event at the USALF.

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.”

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.”

Artemis accords were 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 accords also serve 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 the whole of Nigeria, enabling nation-wide access to broadband connectivity way ahead of the December 2025 schedule, as outlined in the country’s national broadband plan.

With this collaboration with SpaceX’s Starlink, Nigeria is set to be the 1st African country to introduce the service. The nation-wide rollout shall take place before the end of 2022, after conclusion of a few administrative processes. The announcement was made at the US-Space Forum, where Professor Pantami also served as a speaker.

Pantami, has therefore reiterated his its commitment to the implementation of the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy (NDEPS) to ensure that Nigeria’s digital economy remains a leading light, both in Africa and across the globe.

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