The 7th Session of the Steering Committee (SC7) of the Programme ‘Support to EGNOS in Africa’ initially planned in Addis Ababa was held on the 23rd September in virtual mode.
The Programme is a partnership between Africa and the EU, which is championing the development of Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) applications and implementation of EGNOS-based services across the African continent. It is part of Africa-EU long term strategic partnership to enhance safety in air transport and the global objective is to coordinate and support the implementation of seamless and sustainable satellite navigation solutions in all sectors with aviation as the main driver.
The meeting which was co-chaired by EC (Fabio Di Stefano, Strategic Partnerships EU-ACP DEVCO) and AUC (Cheick Bedda, Director of Infrastructure and Energy DIE and Dr Mahama Ouedraogo, Director AUC HRST), gathered a high level and record participation of 35 senior representatives from EC, AUC, AFCAC, ACAO, ICAO, COMESA, IGAD, EAC, ECOWAS, ECCAS, UEMOA, GSA, ASECNA, and AFRAA.
In their opening Speeches, Co-Chairs both expressed their commitment to support the Programme in the framework of Africa-EU Strategic Partnership in Satellite Navigation, a driver for Agenda 2063 commended the effective coordination between EC DG-DEFIS and DEVCO and the continued commitment of ASECNA to support the Programme. AUC welcomed a Special Guest of Honor, Mr Abderahmane Berthe, AFRAA SG, Mr Pathé Gueye, ECOWAS Commissioner Infrastructure (represented by Mr Yankhoba Traoré) and Mr Duccio TENTI who joined recently Strategic Partnerships EU-ACP and EU-African Union at European Commission.
Says Mr Fabio Di Stefano, “the SC meeting has a strategic and political role to serve as a forum for high-level dialogue between the African Union Commission and the European Union Commission and all the Actors of the partnership on satellite navigation”.
On his side, AUC Mr Cheikh Bedda expressed the expectations with regards to the support of technology in the achievement of the seamless single sky initiative which is part of the SAATM flagship objectives in the realisation of the AU Agenda 2063 and praised the work achieved by the Joint Programme Office (JPO) since 2016 in Africa in collaboration with the RECs and regional Stakeholders such as ICAO, AFCAC, and the conduct of the study on Positioning and Navigation Technology and Infrastructure Survey. AUC informed the continental Cost-Benefit-Analysis (CBA) study was prioritized despite the Pandemic situation in order to complete it in the First Half, 2021.
The Meeting was also a unique Forum to hear about the Programme progress update by JPO Director, Mr Semou Diouf and for which early contingency plan measures ensured continuity of activities during the hard days of COVID 19 pandemic.
On their sides, the Eastern Africa Regional Economic Communities (RECs) COMESA, EAC and IGAD contributed by providing strategic guidance in their respective regions while underlying the progress made by JPO in capacity building, studies and awareness despite challenges encountered, while ACAO (Arab Civil Aviation Organisation) provided a status update on the Northern Africa Region which is benefitting from the extension of EGNOS V3 to some Neighbouring States while recalling the importance of the Cooperation agreement (MoU) with JPO.
On Service provision sides, the update on the EGNOS V3 (EV3) development plan by the European Commission (EC) and European GNSS Agency (GSA) provided better visibility to participants on the ongoing studies for the extension of EGNOS in Africa European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) South and the inclusion of Galileo signal.
This was followed by an update on the “SBAS for Africa & Indian Ocean” Programme led by ASECNA and which is recognised by ICAO under the Annex 10. Says Mr Louis Bakienon (Director of Operations) “This programme pursues the autonomous provision of SBAS services in the AFI region to improve flight safety and efficiency through the enhancement of navigation and surveillance operations from en-route down to precision approaches. The services provision plan is based on three essential steps with a pre-operational service which is effective since September 2020, to be followed by operational L1 services from 2024 and then next-generation DFMC services beyond 2028-2030, to enable airspace users to take advantage as soon as possible of SBAS safety, efficiency and environmental benefit”.
Concluding the 7th SC Meeting, both AUC Directors (DIE and HRST) thanked all participants for their time and deep interest and reminded that the programme was for the good of Africa while thanking EU for their continued support which was most appreciated by AUC. They reiterated the support to the Programme while moving forward the Continental CBA study and gave ‘rendezvous’ to all in Addis end March/beginning April 2021.