In a press release by 21st Century Chronicle, Nigeria’s National Space Research and Development Agency (NASRDA) has joined the Group on Earth Observations (GEO) GEO-Nigeria, becoming the second African nation, after South Africa, to be part of this initiative. GEO is a global network of 100 national governments and an intergovernmental organisation that improves Earth Observations (EO) data availability, access and use for a sustainable planet and encourages informed decisions and actions through EO data.
According to the Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation (STI), Dr Adeleke Mamora, represented by Mrs Monilola Udoh, STI’s Permanent Secretary, “The membership will provide all the stakeholders with an intergovernmental platform for collaborations and play a leading role in NASRDA’s activities focusing on EO programmes and missions.” He added, “GEO promotes open, coordinated, sustained data infrastructure and sharing for appropriate research, policy formulation, decisions making and implementation across sectors”.
Furthermore, the Minister highlighted the need for crucial Nigerian actors to collaborate and leverage space-based technologies to promote socioeconomic infrastructure across the country. This entails improved revenue generation, utilising high-resolution satellite imagery, securing lives and properties with geotagged National Identity cards, and more.
“There is a developmental paradigm shift, and Nigeria is strategically positioned to serve Africa with her array of space assets. Moreso, space-based technologies will foster job creations, reduce capital flight and technological innovations for the youths and the ever-growing 200 million population.”
The Director-General of NASRDA, Halilu Shaba, highlighted that according to the objectives of GEO per the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals 2030, the Paris Agreement and the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, EO data is a crucial proven strategy for national security and socio-economic development.
“Our planet is a complex and interconnected system with vital information waiting to be unlocked. Through the lens of EO, we gain valuable insights, enabling us to make informed decisions, mitigate risks and unlock the tremendous potential for progress in our nations. Furthermore, in the face of national security concerns, EO data empowers the nation to detect emerging threats, monitor borders, track geopolitical dynamics and respond effectively to crises”, the DG commented.
According to the DG, Nigeria as a member of GEO, has been committed to the success of its 2016 – 2025 strategic plan, open data policy and facilitating the implementation of the global priority areas. In addition, the Secretariat for GEO-Nigeria would be domiciled at the UN African Regional Centre for Space Space and Technology Education in English (UN-ARCSSTE-E).
Dr Sabri Mekaoui, European Union (EU) Diplomat Programme Officer European Union Delegation in Nigeria and ECOWAS, said Nigeria was on time coming on board the GEO because Nigeria has been acting on many applications linked to GEO; however, joining the group now is creating an official structure to steps taken in the past. In addition, Nigeria’s membership would produce more results, visibility, and interaction with other countries.
“Space needs to be integrated into all the sectors of the economy and leveraged for the common people to understand and utilise it for benefits. GEO is where stakeholders meet to identify the needs that originate from pollution, agriculture, forestry, and any field they can think of; it brings stakeholders using EO for sustainable development. However, as perceived by the population, the space sector is thinking about people going to the Moon, Mars, astronauts, and all that. Thus, thinking of space in a practical way is to utilise geospatial data to regulate and monitor pollution, and it is not something new. However, it will be more practical to make space operational, generalising it to the transport, health, pollution, any sector that needs information,’’ he commented.
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