Law Firm Charges FG On New National Space Policy

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A firm, Olisa Agbakoba Legal (OAL), has proposed that Nigeria needs to articulate a new national space policy.

According to the firm, the current national space policy will elapse in 2025.

Addressing the media over the issue, Associate Partner and head, Public Sector Practice Group, OAL, Mr. Collins Okeke, explained that the current focus of the space programme involves the development of Earth observation and communication satellites.

He said: “Nigeria has since launched six satellites namely: NigeriaSat-1 (2003), NigComSat-1 (2007), NigeriaSat-2 (2011), Nigeriasat-X (2011), NigComSat-1R (2011) and NigeriaEduSat-1 (2017).

“The success of these programmes should signify that the Nigeria Space Policy has been successful; however, as the country moves closer to its 2025 policy deadline, there is more left undone.

“One of the cardinal objectives of the space policy was to establish a full-capacity rocket launch facility in Nigeria. What Nigeria has, despite having barely three years left of its policy’s lifestyle, is a rocket testing facility.

“While this is not just a Nigerian problem but an African endemic, Nigeria has as much potential as other top African space-faring nations and may miss out on the opportunity. Hinged on this is also the promise of launching Nigeria’s first astronaut by 2015. In 2016, Nigeria made a new commitment of sending an astronaut to space by 2030.”

Despite the promise of being a prime satellite manufacturer in Africa, Okeke noted, most of Nigeria’s satellites have been manufactured by non-Nigerian entities, with only a fraction of input from the Federal University of Technology, Akure.

This, he said, was one of the big promises and benchmarks for the space policy, which Nigeria is defaulting.

“The policy also promised to help reduce financial crimes and terrorism in Nigeria but is far behind in its promises. By now, Nigeria should have started working on the final stages of its economic plan, wherein government focuses extensively on regulatory and supervisory roles, allowing for a more vibrant space economy. Unfortunately, this is not the case,” he lamented.

To assist in articulating the issues, Okeke said the law firm would hold a webinar on Wednesday July 13, 2022 at 11 a.m via Zoom, which is designed to begin the process of formulating a new national space policy for Nigeria.

Themed: ‘Unlocking space opportunities in Nigeria’, the webinar, he said, is in furtherance of OAL’s memorandum of understanding with the National Space Research and Development Agency (NASRDA) to collaborate on legal, regulatory, and institutional frameworks for current and emerging challenges in the space sector.

He stated that the webinar would highlight existing gaps in Nigeria’s space policy and the emerging opportunities, look at the structure and harmonise all measures required for the development of outer space activities in Nigeria with emphasis on the place of public-private partnership.

“Explain how the country can take advantage of the characteristics of the country for outer space activities, if applicable – e.g. its geostrategic position); define and allocate responsibilities;

“Increase awareness on the importance of outer space activities and call all relevant stakeholders to participate in the space effort of the country; and position the country on the international stage as a country that recognises the importance of outer space,” he pointed out.

Keynote speakers include former senate President, Senator David Mark, Chairman, Senate Committee On Science, Technology And Innovation, Senator Uche Ekwunife; Director, Federal Ministry Of Science, Technology, And Innovation, Dr. Peter C. Ekweozoh; director-general, NASRDA, Dr. Halilu Ahmad Shaba and Senior Partner, OAL, Dr. Olisa Agbakoba SAN.