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Earth Observation for Sustainable Development – Launch of the Global Monitoring for Environment and Security (GMES) and Africa

The African Union and European Commission have launched a 30 million Euro programme for the implementation of the ‘Global Monitoring for Environment and Security (GMES) and Africa’ initiative.

The programme was launched on 25 november in Brazzaville, the Republic of Congo, by the AU Commissioner for Human Resources, Science and Technology, Dr. Martial De Paul Ikounga, and H.E. Saskia De Lang, Head of the European Delegation to the Republic of Congo in the presence of H.E. Hellot Matson Mampouya, Minister for Scientific research and technological innovation.

The GMES and Africa initiative is a long-term and strategic cooperation framework meant to address the growing needs of African policymakers, scientists and businesses to access and use Earth Observation (EO) data for the implementation of socio-economic and environmental policies on the continent.

The initiative is also grounded on the Africa Space Policy and Strategy, under the AU Agenda 2063 framework, focusing on creating a well-coordinated and integrated African Space Programme and a regulatory environment that promotes and supports an African agenda. AUC Commissioner Ikounga called the signing an important milestone that marks the beginning of a transformative enterprise conceived to contribute to the achievement of Africa’s development aspirations.

Its implementation will enable African partners to provide services to their population on a real-time basis, such as improved rainfall estimate for the farmer, river water level for inland transportation, and fishing stocks for the fishermen.

The Head of the EU Delegation to the Republic of the Congo said this about the launching of GMES and Africa:”This programme is built on 20 years of fruitful cooperation on Earth Observation between Europe and Africa. It will benefit from the data produced by the latest satellite technology developed by the EU in the framework of its ‘Copernicus’ space programme, and by the European agency EUMETSAT, offered to the African continent in the framework of the Joint Africa-EU Strategy”.

African ownership and participation are considered critical to the successful implementation of GMES, which requires the active involvement of all stakeholders. The Minister of Scientific Research and Technological Innovation of Congo referred to the advent of GMES and Africa as an immense opportunity provided by modern science and technology to advance the course of social and economic development in Africa.

The initial implementation phase of GMES and Africa will focus on two services, namely, Water and Natural Resources, and Marine and Coastal Areas.