With the increase in the participation of space-related activities, it was only a matter of time before the Nigerian Legal body caught up with the consideration of creating better policies and regulations that will guide the progress of space exploration in the country.
In the just-concluded 59th Annual General Conference (AGC) of the Nigerian Bar Association, themed “Facing the Future”, a beam of light was cast on the space sector of the country, and hence, the need to strengthen the policies governing space activities.
As a signatory to the Outer Space Treaty, it is expedient to regulate space activities since International space law has no detailed provision for regulating private entities’ activities in outer space. According to Art.VI OST: “States are responsible for national space activities within their jurisdiction”.
Discussing on the theme of the panel session, “SPACE, THE FINAL FRONTIER: SCIENCE, POLICY & LAW AND REGULATORY FRAMEWORK”, during the conference, the panel deliberated extensively on space science and technology, business opportunities challenges; policies and regulatory structures.
Pro. Bart Nnaji, Chairman of Geometric Power Limited, who served as the moderator of the session said in an interview conducted CNBC Africa, that, “The NBA is thinking futuristically”. According to him, the high points of the session were the “Benefits of Space exploration” and “Laws that will guide us in being part of the universe of countries participating in space exploration and research”. “The NBA is adopting the technology”, he further added.
The session started with a short movie clip, titled, “Space, The Final Frontier: Exploring our Boundless Universe of Possibilities and High Technology”, giving an insight to space science and technology, and how investing in space exploration has been on the rise lately, after which the speakers made their presentation.
Dr. Gbenga Oduntan, in his presentation, International Space Law and Practice – Current Legal and Business Issues, highlighted some of the key inventions that have been made possible by space exploration, some of which include, artificial limbs, ventricular assist devices, landmine removal, food safety, solar cells, but to mention a few. One of the main features of his presentation was, The “five United Nations ‘originating’ treaties on outer space”, and The “five declarations and legal principles”.
He also talked about the demilitarization of space, which can be summarized in forbidding the establishment of military bases, installation of any objects carrying nuclear weapons or any other kinds of weapons of mass destruction and fortifications, the testing of any type of weapons and the conduct of military manoeuvres on celestial bodies.
Motolani Fadahunsi-Banjo, Chief Legal Officer, National Space Research and Development Agency (NASRDA), in his presentation titled “Nigerian National Space Policy and Regulatory Environment: Legal Business Challenges and Opportunities”, emphasized some of the challenges such as: conducive business environment, funding, insecurity, legislation etc.
In his concluding remarks, he said, “Space activity in Nigeria has come to stay, and as part of the Agency’s mandate, private entities are encouraged to collaborate with the Agency”. According to him, “The Nigerian government should provide more incentives for investors involved in research and development prone projects: space business”.
Temidayo Isaiah Oniosun, Managing Director, Space in Africa, in his presentation, “Investment and Scientific Possibilities in the Nigerian Space Industry: A Contemporary and Futuristic Overview”, talked extensively on the perks of investing in the Nigerian space sector.
For any sector to thrive in the most brilliant way possible, most especially in the Space sector, it is primarily dependent on the solid framework for which policies and regulations are built, as they will serve as a navigation tool while we’re still trying to find our way in the Cosmos.
David is a space industry and technology analyst at Space in Africa. He’s a graduate of Mining Engineering from the Federal University of Technology Akure.