The Honourable Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Professor Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami, signed the Artemis Accords on behalf of Nigeria. He also announced a partnership with Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) to provide broadband access across the whole of Nigeria. These two events took place at the ongoing US-Africa Leaders’ Forum (USALF), taking place in Washington DC, United States of America. The Summit is hosted by President Joe Biden of the United States and brought together leaders from across Africa.
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). 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. 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.
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 ensuring 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 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 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 Honourable 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 nationwide access to broadband connectivity way 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 1st 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. The announcement was made at the US-Space Forum, where Professor Pantami also served as a speaker.
The Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy, under Professor Pantami’s leadership, 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, both in Africa and across the globe.