The objective of the new ESA initiative, EO AFRICA (African Framework for Research Innovation, Communities and Applications) is to build an African-European R&D partnership to facilitate the sustainable adoption of Earth Observation and related space technology in Africa. The initiative will be driven by African research challenges and user needs, and will follow a long-term vision (>10 years) for the emergent digital era in Africa as outlined in the “Agenda 2063 – The Africa we want” of the African Union Commission (AUC).
The initiative launched by ESA in mid-2020 through a call for proposal is being implemented by the University of Twente’s Faculty of Geo-Information Science and Earth Observation, Serco Europe, TU Wien, Vito Remote Sensing, CS Romania and the CS Group.
The EO AFRICA R&D Facility has the following principal objectives:
- Identify and respond to EO research challenges specific to the African environment
- Facilitate an African – European exchange in research and knowhow
- Develop innovative EO algorithms and applications adapted to African solutions
- Foster innovation to create open-source tools for sustainable uptake in Africa
- Leverage fully the benefits of cloud computing & development tools for African
and European researchers
- Support the uptake of new technologies such as crowdsourcing, drones, IoT in Africa
The project shall implement the following main activities:
- Engage with African science and R&D community to identify African research challenges
- Issue and support research calls for European-African collaborative research projects
- Establish a digital innovation laboratory for EO application development
- foster an open-source EO development community
- build partnership programmes with African innovation hubs
- Setup an English-French bi-lingual EO AFRICA Space Academy (in cooperation with e.g. UN training centres, Pan-African Space University, national space agencies) offering EO training courses
- Develop a Digital Space Campus for Africa offering online EO learning/training as part of the EO AFRICA Space Academy
The EO AFRICA initiative is coordinated with the operational GMES & Africa initiative led by the African Union Commission (AUC) and with the European Commission (DG-DEFIS, DG-INTPA, DG-JRC).