Rwanda signs ‘Artemis Accords’

On 14 December 2022 at 06:41

Nigeria and Rwanda have become the first African nations to sign the Artemis Accords. The two countries signed the accords on Tuesday, December 13, 2022 at the first ever U.S.-Africa Space Forum. Participants in the Forum, which was part of the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit, discussed how to further shared goals through the peaceful exploration and use of outer space.

The Accords were signed by Minister of Communications and Digital Economy Isa Ali Ibrahim on behalf of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and by Rwanda Space Agency CEO Francis Ngabo on behalf of the Republic of Rwanda.

President Paul Kagame of Rwanda, NASA Administrator Bill Nelson, Assistant Secretary for Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs Monica Medina, and U.S. National Space Council Executive Secretary Chirag Parikh gave remarks at the event.

The Artemis Accords represent a bold, multilateral vision for the future of space exploration. Launched by the State Department and NASA together with eight nations in 2020, the Artemis Accords advance bilateral and multilateral space cooperation between signatories, expanding knowledge of the universe and benefiting the whole world.

Signatories commit to principles to guide their civil space activities, including the public release of scientific data, responsible debris mitigation, registration of space objects, and the establishment and implementation of interoperability standards.

The Accords now boast 23 signatories, spanning every corner of the globe and representing a diverse set of space interests and capabilities.

Through signing the Artemis Accords, Australia, Bahrain, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, France, Israel, Italy, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Luxembourg, Mexico, New Zealand, Nigeria, Poland, Romania, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Ukraine, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, and the United States have demonstrated their commitment to the peaceful, responsible, and sustainable use of outer space and are leading the global conversation on the future of space exploration.

President Kagame congratulated NASA for the successful Artemis One mission under the tremendous leadership of Administrator Bill Nelson.

Artemis I is the first in a series of increasingly complex missions that will enable human exploration to the Moon and Mars.

The Head of State said that the return to earth of NASA’s Orion spacecraft mis a step closer to sending astronauts back to the Moon, a half century after Apllo-17.

According to Kagame, “Rwanda could not be more pleased to participate in this accord. 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 centre’.

He highlighted that Rwanda is happy to work with key US industry partners such as E-Space and Atlas Space Corporation.

“E-Space has opened an office in Kigali, Rwanda and will be offering their innovative, satellite-based internet of things technology in Rwanda. We are also happy to be hosting Globalstar satellite ground station an Atlas’ antenna in Rwanda, will contribute to lunar mission control. As we shoot for the stars, let us ensure that the exploration of outer space benefits all of mankind for generations to come,” said Kagame.

According to Col Francis Ngabo, the Chief Executive Officer of the Rwandan Space Agency, “Enabling shared opportunities for peaceful space explorations 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 focused 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.”

According to Bill Nelson, NASA Administrator, “the Artemis Accord is all about what we should do peacefully in space, signalling the intention to help each other out, standardization of instruments so we can come to each other aids when there is a problem.”

Rwanda is one of the few East African countries with a national space program.

In March 2021, the law establishing the national space program was passed by Rwanda’s Chamber of Deputies aimed at coordination of Rwanda’s space sector activities geared towards securing communication, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) as well as purchasing and playing a custodian role of national spatial data and imagery.

As provided by the law establishing Rwanda Space Agency, some of its responsibilities include advising the Government on creating and developing national and international space policies to implement the national and international space policies and strategies.

Rwanda Space Agency is also responsible for providing geospatial services for development activities in various domains such as agriculture, urban planning, emergency response & weather forecasts, and the coordination of national efforts related to building a knowledge base in space and related technologies through conducting formal and hands-on training.

President Kagame also graced the ceremony to sign Artemis Accords.
The Minister of ICT and Innovation, Ingabire Musoni Paula also attended the event.
The official Artemis Accord website shows 21 countries have signed the accord, making Nigeria and Rwanda the 22nd and 23rd.