The third day of the GMES and Africa second continental forum began with a keynote speech from Dr Antony Gidudu of Makerere University. He discussed Earth Observation (EO) human capital development on the continent. This included matching EO training to market needs, improving capacity utilisation, and availing training infrastructure to learners and teachers. He also noted that GMES and Africa has helped develop a geospatial tapestry of geospatial users. According to him, this network of professionals is one of the brightest spots of the GMES and Africa’s first phase. Dr Antony also discussed the consortium’s training methods. According to him, they include
- land degradation and watering;
- wetlands monitoring assessment; and
- open geographical regional reference vector database for water and agro-ecological zoning.
He also gave summaries of their various workshops and trainings. He hoped for a GMES and Africa university network on EO, student and staff mobility and innovation as pursuits for the second phase.
A panel session on the same topic succeeded Dr Antony’s speech. The panellists included representatives from the various GMES and Africa consortia.
The Agence Gabonaise d’Etudes et d’Observations Spatiales (AGEOS) representative discussed how the consortia performed free training activities. According to the presentation, AGEOS typically focuses on training the trainers first. Thus, AGEOS’ objective is to transfer the necessary teaching tools to trainers to ensure they can share the knowledge and know-how. He also discussed the consortium’s programme that mobilised 18 experts – training of users. The programme is to ensure that all users can use the available tools as part of the activity. The third activity took advantage of the training tools, with at least 60 participants, including students and teachers. The consortium also provided about nine scholarships to students – 3 of them have defended their thesis, while 6 of them soon will. He also suggested trainers mobility scheme. He also expressed his regret regarding the pandemic, noting that it affected their performances and didn’t allow them to reach their targets.
Makerere University represented the IGAD Climate Protection and Applications Centre (ICPAC) consortium. The speaker noted how Makerere university coordinated the consortium’s capacity development programmes. According to him, the market needs are influenced by processing software to adapt to different market needs, various open-source software specific to other areas, and dynamic users. Furthermore, the consortium has multiple training methods such as training of trainers, online training and offline training. Are they training the right people as training selection is vital? Regarding the consortium’s aspirations, the speaker noted that they also need to install policy measures accompanying their projects. The consortium also intends to convert to digital platforms and learn techniques to manipulate the platforms.
Observatoire du Sahara et du Sahel (OSS) also discussed their capacity development programmes. The consortium has training and capacity building programmes for their partners in North Africa. They are also involved in land degradation and productivity primarily because of their terrain back in their home countries. The consortium also has various training and centres across multiple partner centres.
The Council of Scientific & Industrial Research (CSIR), Sives Govender, discussed the consortium’s capacity development efforts. He also reiterated the value of capacity development and training. Their approach was first to identify stakeholders – policymakers. He also discussed the consortium’s interest in the private sector. According to the presentation, CSIR targeted artisanal farmers and used their intake to develop applications that helped teach them and provide various important information. They also focused on technical trainings for scientists within the consortium. CSIR had about ten training programmes in the consortia.
During questions and answers, a participant lamented that some relevant countries were not involved and asked for more inter-consortia relationships. Another participant suggested that GMES and Africa had to determine the needs of the private or corporate sectors.
The second panel session also featured various other GMES and Africa consortia on the same topic. The Commission Internationale du Basin Conga-Oubangi-Sangha (CICOS) discussed training through a needs assessment for capacity development. They identified various training needs, including the risk of flooding. This risk stemmed from physical environmental circumstances as rivers surrounded the relevant areas. This assessment helped CICOS tailor its training to ensure appropriate information transfer. They also organised training in Bangui and conducted various flood mapping, including countries outside the consortium.
The Centre for Space Science and Technology Education (CSSTE) also discussed their training methods. They conduct their trainings through an initial needs assessment for their stakeholders among the five member countries. CSSTE also used an integrated online system. The consortium has had various milestones, including six masters students and 800 participants across the country. They also developed an e-learning platform. Their challenges included COVID-19, and it affected their physical training activities. CSSTE also had internet challenges during the trainings. The consortium subsequently recommended a continuous training exercise on existing and new courses. They also suggested that GMES and Africa beneficiaries should be submitted and kept with the AUC
The panel ended with the Regional Centre for Mapping of Resources for Development (RCMRD) explaining its capacity development strategies. The consortium also started their trainings with a needs assessment of their stakeholders and users. They also worked with Makerere University for their trainings. Furthermore, RCMRD also had training on land productivity analysis tools and others. Some were physical, but after the pandemic, they became online. According to them, their online training allowed them to reach and train a larger crowd.
Faleti Joshua is an avid lover of space in all its incomprehensible nature. He holds both an LL.B and a B.L degree. Joshua is a lover of music and a lawyer in his free time.