Nigeria: Launch of the Space Law and Arbitration Association
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The main objective of the Space Law and Arbitration Association (SLAA) is to assist the National Space Research and Development Agency (NASRDA) in protecting the integrity of Nigerian space, as it has been established that the majority satellites in Nigerian space operate illegally without a license. Accordingly, SLAA intends to work closely with the National Assembly, policy makers and, in particular, NASRDA to help strengthen the legal, institutional and regulatory framework that governs the space in Nigeria. This includes reviewing and analyzing current space policy and creating a new policy that covers more aspects of space activities (eg military policy, public policy, trade policy); harmonize national laws with the principles of international law and ensure that all areas / aspects of outer space activities are covered by national legislation. It should also be noted that the space policy is expected to be part of Nigeria’s new national development plan 2021-2025. As Nigeria diversifies away from oil, the space has the potential to be a huge revenue stream.
It is important to define a short story about the historical context of Nigeria’s space activity. When, in 1962, a 40-pound meteorite from Mars – named Zagami – landed in Nigeria, it was an important space encounter for the nation. Shortly after, in 1963, the very first, equally historic live satellite telephone conversation took place between then-youngest US President JF Kennedy and Nigerian Prime Minister Abubakar Tafawa Balewa. Interestingly, space activities only officially started in 2001, when we launched a space policy and established the National Space Research and Development Agency (NASRDA). The space policy aimed to ensure that Nigeria acquires indigenous skills in the development, design and construction of appropriate hardware and software in the field of space technology as an essential tool for its socio-economic development and improving the quality of life of its population.
The global space industry has evolved over the years. The first space race was led by the States – a 20th century competition between two adversaries of the Cold War, the Soviet Union (USSR) and the United States of America (United States), to achieve superior space flight capability. It has its origins in the nuclear arms race based on ballistic missiles between the two nations after WWI. It ended with American footprints on the moon and the eventual collapse of the Soviet Union, unable to keep pace, both economically and technologically. .
The second space race is more complex and multifaceted than the first. It is primarily driven by commercialization and led by emerging economic powers like China, India, UAE and at-risk private citizens like Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, Richard Branson alongside other entrepreneurs and investors. Global participants in this race are ushering in the next generation of small satellite capabilities with tremendous value to commercial and government customers, including organizations in energy, mining, manufacturing, transportation, finance , agriculture and communications; thousands of these satellites will be produced and launched over the next decade. The nations that win this race will gain the military advantage of the 21st century – just as aviation leaders did in the 20th century – and benefit from the nearly $ 3 trillion expansion of the space economy. .
African countries, completely absent from the space “race” at the start, are beginning to play their place by adopting and institutionalizing national and regional space programs. The African Union established in 2017 the African Space Agency (AfSA), headquartered in Cairo, Egypt. There is also talk of an International Space Center currently registered in Virginia, United States, and seeking international status.
As the late Professor Steven Hawking once said, “the future of humanity is in space”. The satellite industry is undergoing deep restructuring both in terms of launches and telecommunications services. We already have SpaceX, an American company founded by Elon Musk seeking the licenses to bring its internet service to Nigeria. It has become necessary for a coalition of Nigerian space lawyers to come together as disputes are clearly being contemplated and new legislation is in order. The highly confidential, technical, and international nature of space-related disputes makes arbitration an increasingly popular method of resolving them, which is why the Space Law and Arbitration Association (SLAA) is launched today.
In view of all this, everyone, especially lawyers, is invited to join the association by sending a mail to [email protected]
Join the Space Law and Arbitration Association via this link: https://forms.gle/wnQvUBnnnQ9bcre27
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