Ghana hosted the Group on Earth Observations GEO Week 2022, the 18th annual meeting of GEO, from 31 October to 4 November 2022. The Group on Earth Observations (GEO) is a global partnership that strives to make these observations freely available worldwide. It also brings together partnerships that produce Earth observation-based tools and services to enable better decisions, policies and investments.
GEO Week is designed as an opportunity for knowledge exchange, learning and international collaboration. It includes the plenary – decision-making sessions open only to GEO delegations – as well as a series of side events and an exhibition. In addition, various international programmes active in Africa and collaborating with GEO were invited, including GMES and Africa, DIGITAL EARTH and SERVIR.
On the sidelines of the conference, the Coordinator of the GMES & Africa Programme, Dr Tidiane Ouattara, presented the Programme’s focus and achievements.
According to an event summary published on GMES & Africa’s website, Dr Tidiane Ouattara explained the position of the organisation and the programme in 3 different sessions, dealing with the sustainability and resilience of systems, public-private partnerships (PPP), and operationality of services. But his participation was also the moment of several bilateral or multilateral meetings with other existing programmes about synergising with various other stakeholders of the sector represented in Accra.
In his presentations, Dr Ouattara’s message was that for greater efficiency and impact of earth observation programmes, Africa needs the formation of a critical mass of human capital in space as well as synergies between the many initiatives in the field of Earth observation.
He delivered a keynote on building resilient and sustainable systems on the first day. He explained that GMES and Africa is coordinating an approach to contribute to the policy and institutional frameworks by integrating earth observation tools and information to develop regional and national capacities, access to data and information services, and user and community awareness.
On the prospects of African PPPs, Dr Ouattara referred to Agenda 2063, the African Space Policy and the African Space Strategy pointing out, on the one hand, that space is one of the tools of the development policy of the pan-African organisation and on the other hand the role that it plays in this development. He then presented the characteristics of the African space market as assessed by Space In Africa, its growth forecasts, estimated at USD 22.64 billion by 2026, and growing investments in the area. For Dr Ouattara, Africa is the new Eldorado in the space field.
The GMES and Africa Coordinator discussed the development of the African EO sector, what it currently represents, the services offered, sources of funding, current partnerships, and challenges. He proposed a business model such as the one implemented by the GMES and Africa programme, which brings together the private and public sectors, and academia. He also mentioned the NewSpace conference to be held in Abidjan next year, which will address in more detail the configuration and potential of this sector.
On Thursday, Dr Ouattara participated in a panel discussion on the operationalisation of services. For him, it is no longer a question of producing raw data in Africa but rather information through processed data.
The last day featured a meeting with DE Africa and SERVIR resulted in the decision to set up a joint working group to work on policy and institutional issues, programmatic matters, advocacy and branding. One of the first tasks of this group will be to develop terms of reference and a roadmap.
Mustapha has a strong relationship with written words and enjoys elaborating on minor details with a plethora of information.