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Exploring space and legal issues

Considering that, unlike the Airspace which belongs to Sovereign States under Air laws of nations, the Outer Space including the Moon and other Celestial bodies is a global commons, which belongs to all States irrespective of their technological developments. In that respect it remains an important natural and shared resource, which should be preserved and protected for the future generations.

The Outer Space Treaty of 1967 provides for freedom of exploration and use of outer space by all states without discrimination. In the advent of commercialization of space, space overcrowding and potential to mine the Moon, the question remains, how can the freedom to explore and the right to access outer space be balanced with preservation of these outer space. I believe there is no amount of international laws that can prevent misuse by those with technology to do so.

Many countries on the Africa continent, except for a handful of countries namely South Africa, Nigeria, Kenya, Algeria do not have policies or laws on the utilization of outer space. Whilst socio- economic national priorities remain a priority, space science and technology acquisition provides huge benefits for nations in the areas of communication, navigation, earth observations and so forth. What is disappointing is that even the countries that have plans to explore and benefit are also limited in terms of financial resources to acquire requisite technology.

In the era of technological developments and race for space, it remains important that there is necessary capacity building programmes to empower nations in Africa on the benefits of space in particular the use of space for socioeconomic imperatives.

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