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The East African : Sep 15th 2014
The EastAfrican NEWS SEPTEMBER 13-19,2014 CODE OF CONDUCT Tanzania hosts talks on outer space security The fi≥st d≥aft of the Af≥ican space p≥og≥amme was d≥afted in Ha≥a≥e, Zimbabwe in May AFRICA SPACE PROGRAMME African countries are upping the pace for setting up a regional space programme. The second taskforce meeting of the African Ministerial Conference on Meteorology in Harare in May witnessed the nomination of taskforce chairs for the programme, which will be led by Tanzania, South Africa, Kenya, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Nigeria and Algeria. Although most of the sessions were closed to the media, the meeting provided updates on the status of the African Regional Space programme and a draft African Space Policy was presented. The policy is premised on the fact that the lack of resource mobilisation, integrated ownership and leadership and a significant industrial sector on the African continent hinders inclusive economic growth and social development. On accessing space services, the draft envisages the use of existing space infrastructure, promoting capacity building for the development of space services, adopting data-sharing protocols, developing and increasing the space asset base and establishing regional and sub-regional centres. 13 There is a lot of debris in space, making lower orbit very dangerous to operate in.” Frank Rose, deputy assistant secretary of state for Space and Defence Policy confrontation as well as foster national, regional and global security and stability, and is complementary to the international legal framework regulating outer space activities. A copy of the code also calls on subscriber nations to share, on an annual basis, where available and appropriate, information with the other Subscribing States on their space strategies and policies, including those which are security-related, in all aspects which could affect the safety, security, and sustainability in outer space; the subscriber nations major outer space research and space applications programmes, space policies and procedures to prevent and minimise the possibility of confrontation. South Africa, Nigeria and By JASTON BINALA Special Correspondent tain a secure environment in outer space through a proposed code of conduct protecting earth observation, disaster warning, crop monitoring and communications satellites in orbit. “The question of security in T outer space has a lot of relevance to Africa. Security in space is as important to us as it is to the US and the EU,” said Pascal Waniha, a member of the African Union technical team involved in the formulation of an African space programme. Mr Waniha was speaking at the end of a space security lecture in Dar es Salaam. He said the African Union is forming a he US and European Union are making efforts to main- Above: A satellite launching into space. Above right: A satellite image of a storm. Pictures: AFP pan-African space programme to help secure outer space environment. The first draft of the African space programme was presented in Harare, Zimbabwe in May. Agnes Kijazi from Tanzania was chairperson of the African Meteorological Committee. The US Embassy in Dar es Sa- laam organised the public lecture last Monday. The lecture was meant to show how space can be utilised to benefit African nations and the advantages of participating in multilateral space initiatives. Frank Rose, the deputy assist- ant secretary of state for Space and Defence Policy Bureaus of Arms Control, Verification, and Compliance, told a group which met at Tanzania’s Commission for Science and Technology that African countries were accessing information from satellites. “For example, Kenya hosts a UN Regional Centre for Mapping of Resources for Development which utilises data from American earth observation satellites to respond to requests from member states for crop monitoring, water conditions, and disaster warning,” Mr Rose said. In 2007, China blew up one of its satellites. The debris that cannot fall out of the sky will stay in orbit, creating a permanent danger to other working satellites in space. “There is a lot of debris in space, making lower orbit very dangerous to operate in,” Mr Rose said. The European Union has prepared a non-legally binding code of conduct for countries with satellites to follow, in order to enhance security in space. There are currently 50 countries with satellites in space, and the number is set to rise. The EU code of conduct calls for responsible behaviour in outer space activities involving all space objects launched into earth orbit or beyond, conducted by a subscribing state, or jointly with other states, or by non-governmental entities under the jurisdiction of a subscribing state, including those activities conducted within the framework of intergovernmental organisations. The code establishes trans- parency and confidence-building measures, with the aim of enhancing mutual understanding and trust, helping to prevent Egypt were initially the only African countries with space programmes, but the African Union has involved the rest of the continent because assets in space will be beneficial to the entire continent, Dr Waniha said. The US, Russia and China all want the long term sustainability of space security, Mr Rose said. “All nations have the right to peaceful use of outer space,” he said. “We have to work together as an international community to make space a safe place. The space environment is very fragile.” “As African nations benefit more from space, and many begin to own satellites, it’s our hope that they will play an active role in developing international best practices, of responsible behaviour, such as discussions on the draft code of conduct,” Mr Rose said.
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