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    How Africa can benefit from Earth Observation Technologies

    Earth observation systems can be utilized, through satellites and other tools, to improve environmental monitoring, agricultural productivity, climate change mitigation, food security, health, and disaster risk reduction.
    The Group on Earth Observations (GEO) is an intergovernmental organization working to improve the availability, access, and use of Earth observations for the benefit of society. GEO works to actively improve and coordinate global EO systems and promote broad, open data sharing. GEO’s global priorities include supporting the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the Paris Climate Agreement, and the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction.

    Over 400 delegates from Africa, Europe and other parts of the world came together at the 1st Global Monitoring for Environment and Security (GMES) and Africa Forum, to discuss Earth observation technologies, supporting Africa’s socio-economic development, at Libreville, capital of the Central African nation of Gabon. The programme, launched in 2016 by the African Union and the European Union together, aims to strengthen Africa’s capacity to exploit Earth observation systems, data, and technologies. The five-day forum is being held from November 19 to 23.

    Benefit areas:

    •  Agriculture 
    •  Air quality Integration of Earth observations 
    • Coastal and marine
    •  Earth observation infrastructure
    • Education and awareness 
    • Land cover 
    • Legal and policy
    • Natural resources 
    • Radiometry 
    • Synthetic Aperture Radar 
    • Water 

    Earth observation systems can be utilized, through satellites and other tools, to improve environmental monitoring, agricultural productivity, climate change mitigation, food security, health and disaster risk reduction. Constrained by limited funding and fragmented approaches, the continent has been struggling to develop local capacities and provide the necessary infrastructure for an Earth observation industry to flourish. Professor Sarah Anyang Agbor, African Union Commissioner for Human Resources, Science and Technology, says that the forum could help achieve the aspirations envisioned by the people of Africa in Agenda 2063 for a prosperous continent. She stressed the need for investments in technologies and harnessing available human capital to improve the systems of health, education, and infrastructure.

    Head of the European Union delegation to Gabon, Equatorial Guinea, Sao Tomé-et-Principe and CEEAC, Ambassador Helmut Rudolf Kulitz, says “GMES and Africa and its predecessor programmes represent more than 15 years of fruitful cooperation with Africa on Earth Observation and a European contribution of more than €100 million.” The Forum was held on the theme — “Unlocking the Potential of Earth Observation as a Key Driver of Africa’s Sustainable Development”, referring to the imbalance in the continent’s potential and actual benefits from Earth Observation technologies.

    Guy Bertrand Mapangou, Gabon’s Minister of Digital Economy, Communication and Post Office, says that “by putting users at the heart of product and service development, GMES and Africa have become a vision for the sustainable and efficient management of natural resources and security in Africa.” At the five-day forum, delegates are set to discuss challenges to the growth and expansion of the sector in Africa; and come up with strategies to involve multiple players, including academic institutions and the private sector. The forum, which is also a flagship programme under the African Space Policy and Strategy, lays down a pathway for the continent to become globally competitive in space activities and develop a space programme.

    A total of 72 African institutions have been awarded grants through open competitive bidding to implement projects in water, natural resources, marine and coastal area management.

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