BusinessDay

Agbakoba, others ask FG to leverage space tech for revenue, job creation

The Federal Government has been urged to urgently leverage space technology to make huge revenues and create job opportunities.

The advice was given in Lagos Tuesday at a media event by the Olisa Agbakoba Legal (OAL).

Addressing a select group of editors, Olisa Agbakoba, senior partner, OAL, said Nigeria could benefit hugely from Space technology through right policy frameworks.

“Our task is to show government that Space technology can solve the revenue challenge of the country and take away poverty. I hope that when the benefits are clear to everybody, they would say, ‘let’s run with it.’

“Employment from Space and revenue from Space is mindboggling. What we are concerned about is to see how Nigeria can tap into this,” he said.

On the level of response from the government, Agbakoba said: “In fairness to the government, they have gone a long way in their thinking in this direction. Unlike before when the government did not think of anything other thing than oil revenue, now that government is cash-strapped you see them being very pro-active in Finance Act as an instrument of bringing in revenue; it is very new.”

According to him, “As we seek a new president in 2023, we need a president who can understand all these; who can harness the energies of Nigeria- from Space, IT, Artificial intelligence, Maritime industry, and put them all together. We are far from being a poor country; Nigeria is extremely a wealthy nation.”

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He also said that there was the need for a national Space summit or national Space exhibition, where people can talk about what they do in space technology or showcase what they do before the minister of Science and Technology and the National Space Research and Development Agency (NASRDA).

The senior advocate of Nigeria (SAN) said that OAL was the only “law firm in Nigeria with a practice group dedicated exclusively to space law. OAL has a long history of working with the Ministry of Science and Technology, the Nigerian Communications Satellite Limited (NIGCOMSAT), the National Assembly, policymakers, and in particular, the NASRDA to help strengthen the legal, institutional and regulatory framework that governs Space in Nigeria.

“This includes reviewing and analysing the current Space policy and creating new policy that covers more aspects of space activities (e.g. military policy, public policy, commercial policy); harmonising national laws with principles in international law and ensuring all areas/aspects of space activities are covered by domestic legislation.”

Agbakoba recalled that a group of lawyers with a common interest in space law had recently launched Space Law and Arbitration Association of Nigeria (SLAA).

He said the objective of the group, among others, was to engage in driving discussions for the development of space law and policy.

Collins Okeke, head, Public Sector Practice Group, explained why OAL was driving the advocacy on the possibilities open to Nigeria through Space technology.

“You may be wondering why a law firm is driving this; it is because the law is very crucial. It is the law that sets the stage for any meaningful change in a sector. We are pushing to see that right investments are attracted in that sector. We are pushing so that a conducive regulatory framework would be created; we hope that would attract those who are interested in Space technology to want to invest in it. It will not only generate revenues for the government, it will also create jobs in the sector,” Okeke said.

According to him, “Although the government is a bit slow in embracing what we are talking about, we hope with time, we will start seeing results from the area.”

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