Highlights of the GMES & Africa 2nd Continental Forum

A gathering of African service providers, end users and policy makers which focused on discussions centered on the role of earth observation in powering environmental sustainability and economic growth on the continent. The stakeholders, who also included scientists, academics and development partners, met under the banner of the Pan-African programme called Global Monitoring for the Environment and Security, and Africa (GMES and Africa).

Location: Côte d’Ivoire

Dates: 06 – 10 December, 2021

Full credit of this post goes to Space-in-Africa.

Day 1

A panel session on the first day of the second GMES and Africa second forum

The second continental forum of GMES and Africa commenced today and will run from 6 to 10 December in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire. The forum will centre on the ways earth observation (EO) can enhance environmental sustainability and socio-economic development in Africa. Furthermore, the forum includes developing methods of utilising EO services and applications to foster environmental and long-term natural resource management for human development. In addition, this forum is the second and last continental forum for GMES & Africa’s first phase.

The programme began with opening statements from several dignitaries. They included Professor Affian Kouadio, Vice President, University Felix Houphouet-Boigny. Jobst von Kirchmann, Ambassador of the EU to Côte d’Ivoire and Koen Doens, DG International Partnerships (INTAPS). The dignitaries also included Professor Sarah Anyang Agbor, AUC Commissioner for Education, Science, Technology, and Innovation, Professor Adama Diawara, Côte d’Ivoire’s Minister for High Education and Scientific Research, and Jean Luc Assi, Minister of Environment and Sustainable Development, representing the Ivorian Prime Minister, Patrick Achi. The dignitaries collectively welcomed, and the participants appreciated them for their presence. 

In Professor Affian’s speech, he applauded the commitment of the 12 consortia to realise the GMES and Africa programmes’ goals. Furthermore, he applauded the help (both technical and financial) of partners such as EUMETSAT and ESA. he also mentioned the AfricaGIS 2021 hackathon on food security and water resources and iterated how the competition brought together 40 participants from 17 African countries.

Professor Affian Kouadio, Vice President, University Felix Houphouet-Boigny, giving a presentation

The Professor also presented an award of recognition to Dr Tidianne and Dr Mahaman Ouedraogo to commend their effort during the implementation of the first phase of the GMES and Africa project.

Professor Sarah Agbor giving her opening remarks

After the opening remarks, Dr Mahman Ouedraogo and Dr Tidiane Outtara presented the objectives and expectations of the forum. Dr Ouedraogo discussed the progress of GMES and Africa, noting that their successes made it imperative to continue into the second phase. Dr Outtara came on to share the achievements of the project’s first phase. In data infrastructure, for example, he noted the 12 Environmental stations (eStations) and 48 operators. Furthermore, Dr Outtara pointed out the means they have leveraged to raise awareness regarding outreach initiatives, including traditional media, social media platforms, and the internet.

Dr Tidiane Ouattara presenting at the second GMES and Africa forum
Session One

The first session included a keynote speech and a high-level panel discussion. The address was regarding “EO: Powering Sustainable Environment and Socio-Economic Growth in Africa”, with Dr Jane Olwoch as the speaker. Dr Jane discussed how the EO programme aligned with Agenda 2063 and the UN SDG. According to her, EO data has been leveraged

to develop solutions to prevent and provide relief for communities during natural disasters. She mentioned that the earlier problem faced during the implementation of EO data was the adoption of space-based technologies for disasters. However, with GMES and Africa, there has been an increasing adoption of Africans to leverage EO data to provide services for the benefit of all Africans.

Space in Africa’s Temidayo Oniosun moderated the panel session with the following participants: Professor Sarah Anyang Agbor, Issa Sani Mahaman, Professor Affian Kouadio, Dr Assize Toure, and Dr Jane Olwoch.

The first panel session of the day

During the panel discussion, Dr Assize Toure discussed the steps taken by African institutions to capitalise on the Africa EO opportunities. According to him, EO data has contributed significantly to Senegal’s sustainable development including developing early warning and monitoring tools for cattle rearers to ensure their increased productivity. He further stated that Senegal had leveraged EO data to contribute to 4% of their GDP.

Prof Affian Kouadio spoke on universities and research institutions’ role in powering environmental sustainability and socio-economic growth in Africa. He explained that for the second phase, the emphasis would be on investing in the right capacity building to ensure that the continent produces the right talent to take charge of Africa’s sustainable development goal. He also commented that only a handful of African states have launched satellites and recommended that Africans ensure a  talent pool to process the data and turn it into information. 

Professor Sarah discussed integrating the GMES and Africa programme into other AUC initiatives. She explained that the GMES and Africa programme is under the Department of Education, Science, Technology and Innovation (ESTI). According to her, the decision was taken by the 55 African heads of state. Furthermore, it cements the GMES and Africa programme as an important initiative to improve the continent’s sustainability. She also acknowledged that the 12 consortia were to effectively implement the project across all African regions. Furthermore, Professor Sarah addressed the ways of ensuring the continuation of the GMES and Africa after 2024. She explained that Africa must grow to a level where we domesticate our solutions. Furthermore, she noted that Africans need to take ownership of the programme after 2024. This would drive the vision of sustainable development in Africa.

Session Two 

The second session featured testimonials of various GMES and Africa sponsorship beneficiaries. Furthermore, over 40 master and PhD students have been funded through GMES and Africa. In addition, some of them have undergone direct internships, i.e., on the job training. However, some of them have given back to their communities by actively facilitating training and projects. These projects ranged from the contribution of remote sensing, developing integrated remote sensing technologies in wetlands, collection, processing and analysis. At the end of the sessions, some of the beneficiaries present explained how their postgraduate thesis affects and improves the African environmental, social and economic situation. The beneficiaries were also presented with certificates to commend their hard work and dedication throughout the programme.

Some beneficiaries of the GMES and Africa scholarship programme.
Session Three

The third session featured two segments. The first was a keynote speech on data and infrastructure. Professor George Wiafe, Director, Marine Resources Centre, University of Ghana gave this speech. There was subsequently a panel session on the same topic. Professor Wiafe noted that Africa’s growth is largely tied to building capacity and infrastructure to accommodate EO data. Furthermore, he discussed the importance of building on the milestones recorded by several space agencies in countries. Professor Wiafe also expressed a need to ensure that all African nations build the right infrastructure. This would ensure the growth and attainment of the African Union Agenda 2063. He also expressed the need to improve access to broadband internet connectivity on the continent.

Day 2

A panel session on the second day of the 2nd GMES and Africa second forum

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.

A panel session on the second day of the 2nd GMES and Africa second forum

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.

Day 3

Panel session from the third day of the GMES and Africa second continental forum

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.

Dr Antony of Makerere University giving his keynote speech

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.

Panellists during the first panel session

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.

Day 4

A panel session on the fourth day of the second continental GMES and Africa forum

The fourth day of the GMES and Africa second continental forum kicked off with a presentation on “Accelerating African environmental and socioeconomic development through EO service communication” by the Managing Director of Space in Africa, Mr Temidayo Oniosun. He discussed the trend of African space news in the past 20 years. In addition, he noted a drastic increase in news reportage on African space in 2018, which he attributed to two things – GMES and Africa and Space in Africa. 

Furthermore, Mr Oniosun pointed out the top space news sources before and after 2018. He discussed that Space in Africa had reported 69% of the African space news post-2018. Mr Oniosun also highlighted the distribution of GMES and Africa stories during the first phase of the programme over the past four years. Also, he believes it can get better with proper communication strategy. To this end, he noted that Space in Africa has been responsible for publishing 30% of all articles centred around GMES and Africa.

The Managing Director of Space in Africa, Temidayo Oniosun giving his presentation

On his recommendation, Mr Oniosun opined that accelerating African environmental and socioeconomic development is through stakeholders investments. He, therefore, went on to discuss the several types of stakeholders, including consortium partners, private sector, members of civil societies, universities and research institutes and the end-user. He also noted the importance of sharing information regarding the activities within the consortia. Furthermore, he highlighted the importance of the several platforms used to reach and engage various stakeholders. According to him, to effectively communicate with all the stakeholders, the right communication tool must be employed. 

Speaking on ways to translate products and services to viable economic solutions, Mr Oniosun noted the massive amount of investment coming into Africa’s start-up ecosystem. He pointed out that the top investment sectors in Africa required EO services, thus creating several investment opportunities for companies providing EO products/services. Also, he mentioned that synergy building is vital in the African space and satellite sector. He noted that the first step is for government institutions to understand that the private sector is not their competition. This is necessary because the private sector can develop economically viable solutions faster than government and research institutions. Lastly, he explained that marketing products/services for the private sector are helpful because it lifts the business burden off the institution’s head and affords them more time to focus on developing more products and services.

The next programme was a panel session that saw representatives from several consortia discuss their communication and engagement strategies, especially to the local communities and the end-users. These consortia include the IGAD Climate Protection and Applications Centre (ICPAC), Observatoire du Sahara et du Sahel (OSS), the Council of Scientific & Industrial Research (CSIR), the University of Ghana, the Regional Centre For Mapping Of Resources For Development (RCMRD), the Southern African Science Service Centre for Climate Change and Adaptive Land Management (SASSCAL), Centre for Space Science and Technology Education (CSSTE), the Agence Gabonaise d’Etudes et d’Observations Spatiales (AGEOS).

Sives Govender, Research Group Leader, CSIR, mentioned that its communications methods might be outdated and archaic. Still, they are trying to develop a better communications strategy to ensure a better result in the next phase of the GMES and Africa Programme. Furthermore, Sives explained that the most apparent paradigm shift is that most of the scientists working on projects are now emerging from Africa, signalling the beginning of a knowledge-based EO industry in Africa. Also, he mentioned that CSIR and its partners had developed ways of ensuring that their products/services are communicated with the local communities to increase the adoption of EO services.

The Executive Director of SASSCAL, Dr Jane Olwoch, also spoke about the consortium’s offering to people and organisations within and outside the consortium. She explained that SASSCAL, the GMES and Africa Programme, had brought stability and diversity to their operations, detailing how the programme has received considerable funding from the African Union translating into solutions to combat climate change.

Dr Jane also discussed that during the first phase of the GMES and Africa Programme, the consortium had realised the importance of stakeholder involvement. She also highlighted the importance of outreach, awareness and engagement to the capacity building functions of the consortium. Furthermore, she noted that SASSCAL is working with five universities and has provided research funding for several masters and PhD students. 

Commenting on the values of GMES and Africa programme on the local communities, the representative of CSE spoke of CSE’s institutional transformation through capacity building. She mentioned that the consortium had developed six new products; four of the projects are focused on the regional market, while the remaining two are developed for the national market. According to her, these products aim to solve several economic and environmental challenges. She highlighted another crucial aspect of CSE’s research, detailing that they are supported by credible data, allowing them to develop practical and effective solutions. 

Furthermore, a representative of AGEOS discussed the contribution of GMES and Africa to Africa’s sustainable development goals. In addition, she noted that the regional integration compelled them to increase their quality and performance because they needed to get close to EU quality. Also, regarding partnership, the programme comprises various entities, so it has been a breeding ground where they have learned a great deal. For example, internet access remains a nightmare as a sizable number of Africans don’t have access to it. She also mentioned that AGEOS still has a lot of work to do, and they have subsequently partnered with universities to scale up.

Furthermore, a representative of OSS discussed the consortium’s contribution to realising the aim of the GMES and Africa – developing new and innovative EO technologies for Africa’s sustainable environments and socio-economic development. In addition, he highlighted the consortium’s four broad offerings, including strengthening capacity in terms of data and land observation, awareness-raising and communication. According to him, the end-users were involved during the first phase of the GMES and Africa. This was done by conducting national studies where several institutions were brought together to conduct research and develop solutions for several environmental challenges. In addition, these institutions collected numbers of indicators, collected data via various platforms, including Copernicus Sentinel imagery. Also, he explained that OSS had been involved in several projects centred on strengthening capacity on several fronts to increase the projects’ sustainability. 

The subsequent panel discussion also saw several consortia representatives discussing their recommendations for the second phase of the GMES and Africa Programme. 

CICOS representative, Mr Abubakar mentioned that CICOS, with the help of its institutional partners, have developed services and produced various products to enhance water navigation in Central Africa with the help of other institutional partners. Furthermore, Mr Abubakar explained that the development of applications and their implementation with stakeholders is also a paradigm shift. According to him, CICOS has conducted awareness and outreach programmes to help various organisations to integrate EO in decision-making processes. Also, CICOS has provided maintenance assistance for their estations and satellite receiving antennas. They have benefited from the programme by the consistent acquisition of satellite data they now share. Mr Abubakar proposes a national project monitoring committee to manage and ensure the sustainability of the projects. 

A panel session on the fourth day of the second GMES and Africa second forum

ICPAC’s representative explained that the East African consortium had improved its offering by sharing actionable data and infrastructure with the end-users. Also, ICPAC has developed a warning system that has enabled people to swiftly identify areas requiring urgent action. In addition, their user base has also increased exponentially because of their new international media communications. According to him, media engagement has led to other kinds of engagement. However, their most significant shift was answering questions posed by the end-users, which has improved their customer base. 

CSSTE’s representative gave a backdrop of the project’s origin. However, according to the CSSTE’s representative, the paradigm shift at CSSTE is implementing the project across Africa. Furthermore, he mentioned that the consortium’s capacity building programme has led to another paradigm shift, helping to increase Africa’s confidence in handling EO  projects.

According to a representative from the University of Ghana (UoG), there was insufficient information to fishermen regarding weather safety and fish population. He explained how the UoG has provided early warnings regarding the state of the sea, increased the productivity of the fishermen and has helped to reduce illegal fishing. Furthermore, he discussed that the UoG has started characterising biological and ecological zones to identify unprotected areas that subsequently become protected and can be utilised for tourism purposes. 

Day 5: Closing Ceremony

The second continental forum of the Global Monitoring for Environment and Security (GMES) and Africa has lived up to its billing of charting a new course on leveraging Earth observation to power environmental sustainability and socio-economic growth in Africa. Furthermore, the week-long event (December 6-10, 2021) has been focused on utilising EO services and applications to foster environmental and long-term natural resource management for human development. It was also the platform where the achievements and lessons from the first phase of GMES and Africa Programme and an avenue for different partners to utilise new and innovative EO technologies for Africa’s sustainable development.

In his closing remark, the EU ambassador to Cote d’Ivoire, Jobst von Kirchmann, thanked AU for demonstrating extraordinary leadership and the minister for his engagement. Furthermore, he noted that the Ivorian government has helped establish that it can be a great scientific hub for the entire continent. He also appreciated the GMES and Africa’s European partners, including Copernicus. In addition, Ambassador Kirchmann also thanked the participants for stepping up and showing that Africa has a good earth observation (EO) ecosystem. He subsequently reiterated the importance of training, outreach and awareness programmes to ensure that the EO products and services being developed by the different consortia are utilised at the local, national and regional levels to make informed decisions. To this end, Kirchmann mentioned that there would be more training, workshops and capacity development programmes during the second phase of the GMES and Africa programme to ensure the right talent pool for Africa’s sustainable development. Also, Ambassador Kirchmann noted that he has listened to all the recommendations made by everyone for the second phase. Lastly, he addressed the private sector and charged them to be more innovative. 

In his closing remarks, the GMES and Africa Programme coordinator, Dr Tidiane Ouattara, appreciated the commitment of all the stakeholders, including the foreign partners, the consortia, and all the other institutional partners, to the success of the first phase of the GMES and Africa Programme. According to Dr Tidiane, history will never forget that the Ivorian government saved the AU by accepting to host the forum at such short notice. On this note, he thanked the president of Cote d’Ivoire, Alassane Ouattara, the Prime Minister, Excellency Patrick Achi, Ivorian Minister for Environment and Sustainable development, Luc Assi. He noted the forum had achieved its aim of creating a platform for networking among EO practitioners. According to Dr Tidiane, the conference is a conclusion of the first phase and that the AUC strongly believes that the achievements discussed brought recommendations and that these recommendations will be accounted for and adequately implemented in the second phase of the GMES and Africa Programme. Also, he noted the good news from Excellency Patrick Achi,  who recognised that Cote d’Ivoire is now equipped with a data centre and will create a new space agency. Furthermore, he noted how the forum brought together people from various countries and diverse cultural backgrounds to answer Africa’s call for sustainable social, economic and environmental development by leveraging EO tools. 

The GMES and Africa Programme coordinator, Dr Tidiane Ouattara giving his closing remarks

Also, Dr Tidiane admitted that the programme had created a family and appreciated the EU for supporting Africa during the programme’s implementation, noting that they had been with Africa for a considerable period. According to Dr Tidiane, the support was multifaceted and ranged from finance, policy, infrastructure to strategy. On the training and capacity development front, he noted that the commission is committed to training young professionals to acquire the required knowledge and skills to drive Africa’s sustainable development. Also, he believed that the persons that the commission sponsored have learned, networked and are not afraid to break boundaries to innovate to make this a reality. Dr Tidianne also charged ladies to take their position within the African space ecosystem and noted creating an African Union Commission’s (AUC) group for ladies to direct their activities. Lastly, he implored everyone to leverage the information gathered in the last five days to implement the recommendations made at the forum at local and national levels.

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About the Author


Kumbirai is a freelance GIS Analyst and GIS Developer with innovative skills and interests in spatial epidemiology, Web-based GIS applications for sustainability, Space technology, Exploration, and Inclusive and Digital Land Information Systems all towards the attainment and achievement of the Global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030.

He is also a true believer of the power of location and geospatial intelligence to CHANGE THE WORLD in making it better for us ALL.

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