Olisa Agbakoba, a former president of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), has said that lack of space law in Nigeria has deprived the country of huge revenue opportunities.
Agbakoba made the observation Tuesday at a briefing shortly before the inaugural meeting of the Space Law and Arbitration Association of Nigeria (SLAA).
“There is no single space law in Nigeria. It is worth noting that a space policy should be part of Nigeria’s new National Development Plan 2021-2025. As Nigeria diversifies away from oil, Space has the potential to be a massive revenue earner,” he said.
Agbakoba, who also is a senior advocate of Nigeria (SAN), explained that SLAA was an association of lawyers with a common interest in space law and related fields, adding that the space law would provide the framework to harness the revenue sources in space.
According to him, “The objectives of the association are to promote the area of space law as well as its interplay with arbitration in Nigeria; engage in driving space policy discussions for the development of space law and policy in Nigeria; encourage the development of literature on space law and policy in Nigeria through the promotion of legal and academic writing and contribute to ongoing conversations at national and international level on issues concerning Space Law and policy development regarding government related and private or commercial space exploration efforts and international cooperation in outer-space activities.”
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He said that “SLAA intends to work closely with the National Assembly, policymakers, and, in particular, 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 a 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.”
The Maritime lawyer noted that “The second space race is more complex and multifaceted than the first. It is driven mostly by commercialisation and led by emerging economic powers like China, India, United Arab Emirates, and risk-taking private citizens like Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, Richard Branson alongside other entrepreneurs and investors.
“The global entrants to this race are ushering in next-generation small satellite capabilities with enormous value to commercial and government customers, including organisations in energy, mining, manufacturing, transportation, finance, agriculture, and communications; thousands of these satellites will be produced and launched in the next decade. The nations that win this race will gain the 21st-century military edge — much like the aviation leaders did in the 20th century — and take advantage of the space economy’s nearly $3 trillion expansion.”
At the inaugural meeting, Agbakoba, Samson Osagie, Khafayat Olatinwo, Lawal Adam, Collins Okeke, Anne Agi, and Odey John were adopted as members of the Advisory Board of the Association.
Space Law 101 For Beginners. A Brief Introduction to Space Law, a book, authored by Anne Agi, head of Space Law Practice, Olisa Agbakoba Legal, was presented at the meeting.
The book discusses space laws, space law sources, the latest developments, and challenges affecting international space law, the most prominent of which is the commercialisation of space law by the private sector.
Agi said: “The involvement of private actors in space has raised many new legal issues including questions about liability and intellectual property rights.
“The book demonstrates that the current outer space treaties are largely obsolete and incapable of dealing with legal issues arising from the commercial use of space.”