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Making best use of satellite data for sustainable development will be discussed by attendees of this week’s EUMETSAT User Forum in Africa


About 170 participants from national meteorological and hydrological services, government agencies and regional institutions in more than 50 African nations are attending the 13th biennial forum in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire.

Data from EUMETSAT’s geostationary Meteosat satellites are a unique asset for forecasting the weather and monitoring the climate in Africa because of the satellites’ constant and detailed view of the continent. This brings a range of socio-economic benefits in areas including disaster risk reduction, agriculture, transport and water management.

EUMETSAT provides the satellite data free of charge to users in Africa, organises training and provides technical support through EU-funded capacity building programmes such as the GMES and Africa project led by the African Union Commission, which aims at transforming Earth observation data into services for sustainable development.

“This year, an important topic for discussion at the forum will be preparation for the use of data from the next generation of Meteosat satellites, Meteosat Third Generation, in Africa,” EUMETSAT Director-General Alain Ratier said.

“The first of these spacecraft is scheduled for launch in 2021 and will provide new and more data to users. For example, in addition to providing more frequent, more detailed images in more spectral channels, the satellite will map lightning flashes which will open a new era for meteorological observations of the African continent.

“Satellite data are an asset for many applications in Africa”

“EUMETSAT will continue to work closely with user communities in Africa, and relevant African and European institutions, to enable the best possible use of this data.”

A few days before the forum, the Bureau of the African Conference of Ministers in charge of Meteorology (AMCOMET) endorsed the “Abidjan declaration”, which supports increasing capacity in Africa to fully exploit data from the Meteosat Third Generation programme, and encourages the creation of an African Meteorological Satellite Applications Facility (AMSAF) to generate products that meet specific African needs.

“Satellite data are an asset for many applications in Africa,” Amadou Koné, Republic of Côte d’Ivoire Minister for Transport, said.

“With Meteosat satellites, we can predict extreme weather events and monitor climate change. This is crucial to help protect lives and critical infrastructure such as transport and energy facilities.

“Meteosat Third Generation will create new opportunities for Africa – lightning detection from space will be a vital source of information for aviation safety.”