International Space Education: A Conversation with Dr. Adigun Ade Abiodun and Prof. Ram Jakhu
The volume and scope of space activities conducted by African nations and entities is rapidly increasing. Despite the growth, Africa still lags behind global counterparts in the exploration and utilisation of outer space. This is partly due to the lack of a skilled workforce to adequately serve the needs of the growing African space industry. Space law, policy and industry experts are among the skilled workforce who are critical in advancing the nascent space projects of the continent.
Legal and industry experts support the nations and entities of Africa to navigate the intricate and constantly evolving landscape surrounding space activities, by addressing the legal, regulatory, and operational challenges associated with governing and financing space activities on the continent. A lack of such experts therefore hampers the continent's ability to develop and apply comprehensive legal and commercial frameworks needed to effectively guide national and private-sector space activities. To close these gaps, Africa urgently needs to develop pathways for training and skilling a community of specialists who understand both the legal-regulatory and commercial landscape of the global space arena together with the intricate political, and socio-economic perspectives of Africa and her citizens.
What are the key challenges and opportunities in training space law, policy and industry experts for Africa in today's rapidly evolving space industry? On what pillars should the relevant stakeholders and partners in Africa’s emerging space industry build education and training programs that can produce the much-needed workforce that can adequately address Africa’s current and future needs? What lessons can Africa take from the strategies and experiences of other nations and regions in developing the robust workforce who serve their space industry?
Joining us to discuss these and other related issues are Prof. Ram Jakhu (McGill Institute of Air and Space Law) and Dr. Adigun Ade Abiodun (Cofounder, African Space Leadership Institute).
Ram S. Jakhu has over 40 years of experience in space law and policy and currently is a tenured Full Professor at the Institute of Air and Space Law, Faculty of Law, McGill University, Montreal, Canada. He teaches and conducts research in international space law, law of space commercialisation, space safety and security, national regulation of space activities, law of telecommunications, and public international law. He is the Project Director and Co-Editor of the McGill Manual on International Law Applicable to Military Uses of Outer Space (MILAMOS Project); Project Director and Editor-in-Chief of the McGill Encyclopedia of International Space Law, and Research Director on Project on Space Laws and Policies in South Asia. He was the Project Director and Principal Investigator of an international and interdisciplinary study entitled as Global Space Governance: An International Study (Springer, 2017). He served as the Director of the McGill Institute of Air and Space Law.
Dr. Adigun Ade Abiodun's professional experiences includes his services as a hydraulic engineer with the US Army Corps of Engineers, in Seattle; as a system engineer at the Boeing Company, in Seattle; Snr. Lecturer at the University of Ife, (since renamed Obafemi Awolowo University), and as United Nations Expert on Space Applications from 1981 November to 1999 September, when he retired from the services of the United Nations. Thereafter, he was appointed by the Secretary-General of the United Nations as a Member of the College of Commissioners of the United Nations Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission on Iraq (UNMOVIC), (2000-2007). He also served concurrently as the Senior Special Assistant (to the President of Nigeria) on Space Science and Technology (March 2000 – May 2003). He was elected and served as the Chairman of the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of outer Space – COPUOS (June 2004 – June 2006). He is the Founder of the African Space Foundation (ASF). He also co-founded the African Association of Remote Sensing of Environment (AARSE), the African Leadership Conference on Space Science and Technology (ALC) and the African Space Leadership Institute (ASLI).