Nigeria and Rwanda became the first African nations to sign the Artemis Agreement this week during the first ever US-Africa Space Forum.
The Artemis Agreements are a broad, non-binding framework that sets out agreements for responsible and peaceful international exploration of the Moon. NASA Administrator Bill Nelson announced the addition of Nigeria and Rwanda to this agreement on the first day of the US-Africa Leaders Summit in Washington DC (December 13-15), of which the inaugural Space Forum was a part.
The US State Department later issued a statement (opens in new tab) commemorating the addition of Nigeria and Rwanda to the agreement. “Nigeria and Rwanda became the first African nations to sign the Artemis Agreement. Participants in the forum, which was part of the US-Africa Leaders Summit, discussed how to advance common goals through the peaceful exploration and use of outer space, ” the statement reads.
Related: The Artemis Agreement: Why the International Framework for Lunar Exploration Matters
The agreements were signed by the 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, according to the statement.
“Signatories commit to principles to guide their civilian space activities, including public release of scientific data, responsible mitigation of debris, registration of space objects, and establishment and implementation of interoperability standards,” the State Department statement continues.
The Artemis Agreement was jointly launched by NASA and the US State Department along with eight nations in 2020 with the announced goal of promoting bilateral and multilateral space cooperation between signatories. The signing of Nigeria and Rwanda to the lunar coalition means that there are now 23 signatories to the agreements, which set principles and best practices for exploration.
The agreements take inspiration for their name from NASA’s Artemis program, which aims to establish a sustainable human presence on and around the moon by the end of the 2020s.
The first countries to sign up were the United States, Australia, Canada, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, Ukraine, the United Kingdom and the United Arab Emirates, with South Korea in 2021 to become the first of many to sign under the Biden administration. Other nations such as Russia and China have argued that the agreements are overly US-centric and represent a power grab by the US and its allies.
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