The 65th meeting of the Committee for the Peaceful Use of Outer Space (COPUOS), held in Vienna from 1 – 10 June 2021, saw global participation, including representatives from African member states, including Algeria, Angola, Egypt, Kenya, Mauritius, and South Africa, among others.
The General Assembly set up COPUOS in 1959 to govern the exploration and use of space for the benefit of all humanity – for peace, security and development. Since its inception, the Committee has been charged with reviewing international cooperation in peaceful uses of outer space, studying space-related activities that could be undertaken by the United Nations, encouraging space research programmes, and studying legal problems arising from the exploration of outer space.
The Committee’s annual meeting was designed to discuss questions relating to current and future activities in space. Discussion topics at the conference include maintaining outer space for peaceful purposes, safe operations in orbit, space debris, space weather, the threat from asteroids, the safe use of nuclear power in outer space, climate change, water management, global navigation satellite systems, and questions concerning space law and national space legislation.
The Angolan delegate, led by Dr Zolana João, Director-General of the National Space Program Management Office (GGPEN), represented the Ministry of Telecommunications, Information Technologies and Social Communication (MINTTICS) and the Angolan government. Angola’s participation was focused on several thematic areas, starting with an address to the Committee about the state’s participation in Space. According to Dr João’s address, space infrastructures and derived data are directly tied to Angola’s sustainable development plan. For instance, ANGOSAT-2, scheduled for launch in the coming months, aims to deliver broadband internet and help bridge the digital divide in Angola and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region.
Similarly, on the sidelines of the event, the Kenyan delegation, led by Mr Glenns Etyang, Counsellor I – Permanent Mission of Kenya and Lt. Col. Mercy Kamau from the Kenyan Space Agency KSA, met with some representatives from Japan’s Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) for determining ways of fostering more collaboration in space ahead of the 8th Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD8) scheduled for 27th and 28th August 2022 in Tunis, Tunisia.
All African states in attendance participated in several discussions on ensuring that space participation by countries follows the set recommendations to promote the peaceful use of outer space. Other side events at the ten-day gathering of global leaders included relevant issues regarding the awareness-raising and capacity-building related to implementing the Guidelines for the Long-term Sustainability of Outer Space Activities, access to space for all member states, and youth space exchanges and opportunities.
With the latest addition of Angola to the Committee member states in 2021 following the approval of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), Africa now has 20 state representations in COPOUS. For more information about the complete event proceeding and the specificity of each nation’s participation, kindly login to COPOUS 65 dedicated web link.
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