Samuel Bello, Abuja
The Federal Government said it is lobbying the African Union (AU) for it to locate the African Space Centre in Nigeria to boost the country’s image internationally.
Minister of Science and Technology, Ogbonnaya Onu, disclosed the plan recently, in Abuja, when he received the African Union Panel for the Assessment of selected African countries to host the African Space Centre.
Onu explained that Nigeria deserves to host the centre considering its pioneering role in space exploration, its potentials and resources as well as its financial contribution to the African Union.
The minister stated that Nigeria has made giant strides in space development, adding that it was Nigeria space satellites that first alerted the United States of America on the hurricane Katrina that assailed the country in 2005.
Onu further told the panel that Nigeria had invested massively in capacity building of space professionals and would be too willing to share its technical know-how with other African countries.
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According to him, space technology could address illegal migration across the Mediterranean, reduce poverty and contribute significantly to Africa’s development.
He urged African countries to invest in space technology so as to boost their economy. He further said that the economic leverage of the United States of America was due to its investment in space technology.
“Space technology had vast untapped potentials which, if explored, could open a window for economic development of the continent. Our thrust has always been to domesticate our exploration in space science and technology to diversify our economy and boost our economic potentials,” he said.
The minister assured the panel on the resolve of all the arms of Nigeria’s government to collaborate in achieving the aim of hosting the space agency.
Also speaking, Chairman of the African Panel for the Assessment of hosting of African Space Centre, Prof. Chaabouni Mohammed, had stressed that space technology development represents the true power of any nation. He added that the panel will assess Nigeria’s application to host the African Space Center using certain criteria and will also inspect facilities on the ground to enable it determine the suitability of the country for the right.