December 14, 2022

Nigeria, Rwanda become first African nations to sign Artemis Accords

By Biodun Busari

Nigeria and Rwanda have signed the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Artemis Accords, becoming the first African nations to join the accords on Wednesday.

Nigeria’s Minister of Communication and Digital Infrastructure, Professor Isa Pantami and Chief Executive Officer for Rwanda’s Space Agency CEO, Col Francis Ngabo signed the pact on behalf of their respective countries.

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The signatures took place during the US-Africa Space Forum on the sideline of the US-Africa Leaders’ Summit in Washington DC, United States.

The Artemis Accords was drafted by NASA and the US Department of State to institute a structure for cooperation in the civil exploration and peaceful use of the Moon, Mars and other astronomical objects.

Speaking on the occasion, Ngabo said the treaty will “enable shared opportunities for peaceful space explorations that will benefit humanity through the discovery of solutions for cutting-edge space technologies, advances in medicine, protection of the planet and environment, creation of scientific and technical jobs and scientific breakthroughs from exploring the unknown.

“Even though Rwanda is currently focusing on the downstream space segment, we are keeping an open mind on the upstream and want to be a part of advocating for responsible use of outer space.”

In his remarks, NASA Administrator, Bill Nelson added, “the Artemis Accords is all about what we should do peacefully in space, signalling the intention to help each other out, standardisation of instruments so we can come to each other aid when there is a problem.”

Rwandan President, Paul Kagame, also stated that his country could not be more pleased to become a member of the accord. He added that “space technologies are increasingly becoming a critical tool for sustainable development, which is why Rwanda Space Agency was established two years ago to establish a space research and development center.”

With the addition of the two signatories – Nigeria and Rwanda, 23 nations have affirmed their commitment to transparent, safe, and sustainable space exploration.

The Accords were signed on 13 October, 2020 by representatives of the national space agencies of eight countries – Australia, Canada, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom and the United States.

Additional signatories include Ukraine, South Korea, New Zealand, Brazil, Poland, Mexico, Israel, Romania, Bahrain, Singapore, Colombia, France, Saudi Arabia, Rwanda and Nigeria.