African development experts and institutions have begun a five-day meeting in the Senegalese capital, Dakar, to weave together strategies and mechanisms of delivering on the services they are mandated to provide under the banner of the Global Monitoring for Environment and Security and Africa (GMES and Africa).
A joint initiative of the African Union Commission and the European Commission, GMES and Africa aims to address the growing needs of African countries to access and use Earth Observation (EO) data for the implementation of sustainable development policies, management of the environment and natural resources, as well as monitoring of humanitarian operations in Africa.
GMES and Africa is built on aspirations of the African Agenda 2063, which craves for a prosperous, peaceful and integrated Africa, and for a robust and responsive African outer space programme. It focuses on thematic areas reflecting Africa’s developmental priorities, including Water and Natural Resources, and is implemented through consortia of regional and national institutions across the continent. The Dakar meeting, which will also be attended by officials from the AU’s Regional Economic Communities and organizations, and from European technical institutions, is a platform to discuss and provide solutions to the implementation of the four pillars of GMES and Africa, including Infrastructure and Data, Products and Services, Training and Capacity Development, as well as Outreach, Awareness and Engagement.
The GMES and Africa Coordinator, who is also the African Union Commission’s Space Science Expert, Dr. Tidiane Ouattara, describes the meeting as an opportunity for the participants from different thematic backgrounds to share experience and forge ideas on the design and development of Water and Natural Resources services. “It enables them to plan together training and capacity development activities, and drive the operationalization of ICT tools and digital platforms created to facilitate seamless communication among stakeholders”, he observes. Some of the institutions and experts under the GMES and Africa banner have extensive and cross-cutting experience in service delivery on the programme’s four thematic pillars and will use the Dakar convergence to impart best practice ideas and models to their peers.
GMES and Africa was launched in November 2016, following continent-wide and international consultations on Africa’s needs and priorities in pursuit of exploiting earth observation data and information to leverage sustainable development in the continent. The programme is funded by the European Commission to the tune of 30 million EURO, and implemented by the African Union Commission through an open Call for proposals from African institutions which are provided with grants to deliver services to user communities.