Transnational governance affects a wide range of diverse policy areas - including those we don't always immediately think of - but space governance has long been an important policy issue.
Etim Offiong is an expert on all things space governance. As a research officer at the African Regional Centre for Space Science and Technology Education (ARCSSTE-E) in Nigeria, Etim uses the time of his fellowship to investigate how space activities are governed within the European Union (EU) and how the EU approaches global space governance.
We asked Etim for some insights into his research field:
Q: What do we understand by “Space Relations?”
A: Space Relations refers to the interactions among States as they engage in outer-space activities. It may be viewed as a sub-field of International Relations that focuses on States’ access to, exploration and use of outer-space. The national and foreign interests of a State drive its approach to space relations with another State. Hence, their interactions could be cooperative, competitive, and/or strategic.
Q: How does the EU-Africa space cooperation look like at the moment?
A: Space cooperation between the EU and Africa has been mutually beneficial. For Africa, Space has gained more attention by African Union Member States. Also, local capacity and industry, especially in Earth Observation, has been growing, mainly due tothe GMES and Africa programme. The EGNOS in Africa programme is gaining momentum and a new programme on climate services started earlier this year. For the EU, its industry and research communities share in Africa’s space economy. The programmes also serve as a means of space diplomacy, supporting EU’s interests in Africa.
Q: What are the challenges for space governance today and in the future?
A: The challenges of space governance include how to respond to emerging and future technologies, as well as the diverse economic and strategic interests of old and new space actors. The Outer Space Treaty continues to serve well as the magna carta for space activities. However, we also need a progressive system for responding to current and future technologies and interests.
In early November, Etim organised a virtual roundtable on EU-Africa space relations as part of the Policy Leader Fellows' Project Talk series. During the three-hour event, the many expert panelists reflected on EU-Africa space relations from an institutional, policy and programme perspective. They also made recommendations to strengthen EU-Africa cooperation in space in light of current global challenges. A policy brief on this topic will be published shortly.
Watch the full event: