The World Meteorological Organization has opened its Regional Office for Africa in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa, a move marked by an official ceremony on 16 October with Secretary-General Petteri Taalas and the country’s Minister for Water, Irrigation and Energy, Seleshi Bekele.
The formal handover ceremony was the culmination of a process that began with the 2018 signing of a Host Country Agreement that paved the way for the relocation of the Regional Office for Africa from WMO’s headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, to Addis Ababa.
Mr Taalas, who reiterated his sincere gratitude to the government of Ethiopia for hosting the Regional Office for Africa and providing its facilities, underscored the importance of the move.
“The Office is expected to play key roles in enhancing the capacities of National Meteorological and Hydrological Services, including Ethiopia, to provide timely, reliable and accurate weather-, climate- and hydrology-related services, products and information to stakeholders in climate-sensitive sectors and for efficient service delivery,” he said.
Mr Taalas noted that, in 2015, WMO started the process of moving closer to the ground in order to better engage with its six regions and respond to their needs.
Minister Bekele said that he appreciated the contribution of WMO in coordinating the effort made by National Meteorological and Hydrological Services to provide warnings of severe weather, climate variability and change, and thereby enabling decision-makers, communities and individuals to better prepare for weather and climate events.
He also informed WMO that the present location of the Regional Office for Africa is temporary. It will eventually be housed in the new headquarters of Ethiopia’s National Meteorology Agency, which is set to open by 2022.
WMO signed the Host Country Agreement on 11 July 2018 with the government of Ethiopia to open its Regional Office for Africa in Addis Ababa. The decision to open the office was strategic in that Addis Ababa is the political capital of the African Union and also hosts the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa.
The relocation of the Regional Office for Africa to Ethiopia will further strengthen channels of support from WMO for early warning systems that mainstream weather and climate into national, regional and continental development plans and related programmes in across the continent.