On 11 June 2019, Tunisia and India signed a Memorandum of Understanding on cooperation in the exploration and peaceful uses of outer space. Mr Nejmeddine Lakhal (Ambassador of Tunisia to India) and Dr B. Bala Bhaskar (Joint Secretary, West Asia & North Africa Division of MEA) signed the agreement at the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) Headquarters in Bengaluru, India.
The MoU will provide a policy framework for both nations to work together closely on joint research, technology and knowledge exchanges, and capacity development.
“This new promising area of cooperation and partnership between Tunisia and India revealed in the ‘Road Map for Tunisian India future partnership’ signed in October 2017 in Delhi, will include significant activities related to remote sensing of the earth, satellite meteorology; satellite-based navigation, space science and planetary exploration; use of spacecraft and space systems as well as practical application of space technology. It will also open the path for our countries to explore other areas of cooperation in terms of common interest,” Tunisian Ambassador to India, Nejmeddine Lakhal, told the Economic Times of India.
India will also gain from collaborating with Tunisia on implementing joint space projects, knowledge and technology exchanges as well as in the transfer of expertise.
Tunisia established the National Commission of Outer Space in 1984 and the National Centre of Cartography and Remote Sensing in 1988, as part of a plan to coordinate the nation’s outer space programs and improve the uptake of satellite data for national development. The North African nation joined the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space in 2010, and participates in several international and regional forums for the peaceful use of outer space. The signing of this MoU is part of an extensive policy paradigm in Tunisia towards the adoption of space technologies for security and sustainable development.
Tunisia adds to a growing list of India’s allies on space exploration in Africa. In September 2018, India entered into similar bilateral agreements with Algeria, Morocco and the island of Sao Tome and Principe.
Joseph Ibeh is a Mandela Washington Fellow and Senior Analyst at Space in Africa. His experience spans industry research and market analysis with a focus on African-grown NewSpace companies, commercial space industry, national space programmes and real-life application of space science for sustainable development in Africa.