The second continental forum of GMES and Africa commenced yesterday with presentations, keynote speeches and panel discussions highlighting the experiences and uptake of EO innovation, technologies, and applications among different partners during implementation of the 1st phase of GMES and Africa. The second day of the week-long event consisted of high-level segments of keynote speeches and the key results, milestones, best practices from the 12 consortia as well as lessons learnt from the 1st phase of GMES and Africa with necessary recommendations for the 2nd phase of the programme.
The second day of the GMES and Africa forum comprised one session, entitled “Services delivery”. Dr Emanuel Nkurunziza, the Director-General of the Regional Centre for Mapping of Resources for Development (RCMRD), gave the first keynote speech. The speech was on “Earth Observation Key Driver of African Socio-economic Development. He also discussed Africa’s considerable EO business opportunities and the need for a user-driven approach regarding EO in Africa.
The next programme was a panel discussion by the 12 representatives of the GMES and Africa consortia, which Ms Jessie Ndaba moderated. The panel discussion was titled “From needs assessment to services utilisation: end users’ testimonial”. The consortia included Agence Gabonaise d’Etudes et d’Observations Spatiales (AGEOS), Commission Internationale du Basin Conga-Oubangi-Sangha (CICOS), Centre de Suivi Ecologique (CSE), Centre for Space Science and Technology Education (CSSTE) and IGAD Climate Protection and Applications Centre (ICPAC). The CICOS representative noted that they created protective areas and made it possible for forest managers to include areas that required systemic monitoring. According to him, forest managers subsequently get better management and economic resources via satellite tools. As a result, this helps them to notice issues as satellite imagery helps determine what parts of the vast expanse of land require prompt intervention. The moderator added that national governments have an essential role in implementing the next GMES and Africa Phase, adding that the government would help to ensure stability and improve the success rate of EO solutions and adoption within their countries.
There was another panel discussion regarding “restitution of findings for Water and Natural Resources (WNR) services”. The speakers included representatives of IGAD Climate Protection and Applications Centre (ICPAC), the Regional Centre for Mapping of Resources for Development (RCMRD), Observatoire du Sahara et du Sahel (OSS), Southern African Science Service Centre for Climate Change and Adaptive Land Management (SASSCAL), Mauritius Oceanography Institute (MOI) and the University of Ghana (UoG)
The CICOS representative noted the region’s river-based transportation, which he said was more cost-effective. He also explained that the consortium had developed maps in the form of smart apps. Furthermore, he expressed the need to increase the capacity continent-wide to ensure a talent base to take charge of the programme’s solutions during and after the second phase of GMES and Africa in 2024.
In addition, the CSE’s representative spoke about the sustainable management of wetlands in nine African countries. The representative also presented their project to develop a service regarding monitoring wetlands through EO data and monitoring wetlands through satellite mapping. Also, he discussed the implementation of a geoportal to provide information on the wetlands they had not recorded in the programme’s first phase talent base.
Furthermore, CSSTE’s representative spoke about its flood event database and flood forecasting capacity-building services. The services were developed to cater to a particular need within the countries that make up the consortium. Their representative noted the need to update the flood database and design a standard data collection tool to ensure uniformity. Furthermore, CSSTE intends to upgrade its forecast models to be more automated. As a result, they want to deploy monitoring stations along strategic waterways and leverage internet of things (IoT) opportunities. Also, ICPAC discussed its four services, including natural services monitoring assessment following the same procedures. These services were chosen based on user needs assessments. Furthermore, ICPAC also identified the importance of a strategic partnership between the African governments and stakeholders; and GMES and Africa.
In his presentation, the AGEOS representative noted the need to strengthen monitoring of its projects and natural resources. He discussed the various solutions that developed maps of their forest covers to see where populations were located. Furthermore, AGEOS developed an early warning system to monitor forests and create solutions to these challenges. In addition, AGEOS also intends to partner with other consortia that work on forest monitoring to increase its scope and ensure that they achieve more success. Furthermore, the AGEOS plan to scale up, reach the grassroots level, and involve the end-users in their process. AGEOS’ representative also noted some limitations within their programme, including Covid-19 and databases, as the data is not readily available for end-users and decision-makers on the continent.
Furthermore, OSS’s representative noted that the consortium also monitored land degradation. According to the representative, their policymakers require robust information regarding land degradation. And this need is broken down into various indicators and sub-indicators like erosion and carbon pollution. The representative further explained the consortium’s training categories, including the training of the trainers, training of the users, and service training. Their plan for the second phase is to improve on their achievements from the first phase. Consequently, they also preach cross-fertilisation between consortia, subsequently enhancing their capacity building and increasing mobility of students between the consortia.
Also, a representative from the University of Ghana (UoG) discussed the milestones within their consortia. According to the representative, they have developed various services, including fish, monitoring and forecasting, oceanography, maps of ocean currents, etc., for users, including academic and research institutions. In addition, they also forecast potential fishing zones to fisheries managers by leveraging USSD codes to provide timely and actionable insights to fishers. Furthermore, they also offer coastal vulnerability maps to various users that helps them determine areas’ protection priority. However, one of the significant limitations with their services is acquiring in situ data, which makes it challenging to develop the right solutions. Lastly, the representative mentioned that they are also trying to scale up their services by partnering with the North African countries to enhance the collaboration between Africans.
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