On December 13, 2022, the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit featured the first-ever U.S.-Africa Space Forum. The Forum reaffirmed the United States’ commitment to collaborating with African partners on the peaceful use and exploration of outer space to meet shared priorities for here on Earth. The Forum highlighted the U.S.-Africa space partnership and cooperation to address 21st century challenges and opportunities, including responding to the climate, biodiversity, and global food crises; promoting responsible behavior in outer space; and reinforcing U.S.-African scientific and commercial space cooperation. Participants in the Forum committed to deepening the U.S.-Africa space partnership across all sectors.
The Forum celebrated the signing of the Artemis Accords by Nigeria and Rwanda, making them the first African signatories. The Artemis Accords are a set of principles to guide the next phase in space exploration, reinforcing and providing for important operational implementation of key obligations in the 1967 Outer Space Treaty. The Accords affirm the importance of implementing best practices and norms of responsible behavior as well as compliance with the Registration Convention and the Rescue and Return Agreement.
Professor Isa Ali Ibrahim, Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, signed the Artemis Accords on behalf of Nigeria, while Francis Ngabo, CEO of Rwanda Space Agency, signed the Accords on behalf of Rwanda. They were joined on the U.S. side by Assistant Secretary of State Monica Medina, Administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), Bill Nelson, and Executive Secretary of the National Space Council, Chirag Parikh. With their signatures, 23 nations have signed the Artemis Accords.
The Forum also discussed the role of the private sector in supporting U.S.-Africa space partnership. A number of U.S. companies have recently announced new investments in the U.S.-Africa partnership, including:
- The Rwanda Space Agency and ATLAS Space Operations have partnered to bring a teleport and large satellite antenna to the global space community.
- Planet Labs PBC is investing across Africa with a range of stakeholders to deliver daily satellite imagery and geospatial solutions that help meet sustainability, economic, and resource management priorities, including supporting decision making on drought risk protection, forest management, and renewable energy. Kenyan company ZEP-RE just announced that it will use Planet’s satellite imagery as it works with the World Bank on drought risk protection in the Horn of Africa.
- In furtherance of Nigeria’s goal of providing all of its citizens broadband access by 2025, Nigeria announced that SpaceX’s high-speed, low latency broadband service Starlink is now available in the country, making Nigeria the first country in Africa where Starlink is available.
- Zipline is drawing upon space data to expand its aerial logistics services to more government sectors in Rwanda, including the health, agriculture, finance, e-commerce and tourism divisions, and will conduct nearly two million instant deliveries across Rwanda by 2029.