Earth Observation for the Africa We Want
Hailu Wudineh
21 November 2017
Invited to the AfricaGIS 2017 as a keynote speaker, the Coordinator of the GMES and Africa Support Programme underlined the significant role of Earth Observation and monitoring of Africa’s abundant natural resources in conserving the welfare of current and future generations.
The opening session of Africa GIS 2017 Conference started on 21 November 2017 in Addis Ababa, at the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA). The conference brought together policy makers, academia, private sectors data providers and partners in the field of Earth Observation from Africa and the world.
In his keynote address, the GMES and Africa Support Programme's coordinator, Dr Tidiane Ouattara stated that "The Africa We Want’’ is not an unrealistic dream or wish. It is not a series of promises. It is an imperative for each African, each of us here. Realizing ‘’The Africa We Want’’ should be seen as a collective enterprise where several experts and specialists from various fields and areas are required and condemned to work together to properly transform the dream into reality. And this is also very true for the Geospatial and statistics communities.
Earth Observation and the monitoring of Africa’s abundant natural resources are important for conserving the welfare of current and future generations. Currently, there is a need to address the huge gap in terms of the requisite infrastructure and critical human resources at all levels to fully realize the potential benefits that would accrue from the sustainable use and conservation of these resources added Dr. Tidiane.
Thematic experts of the GMES & Africa Support Programme also discussed the possible contribution of Earth observation for transforming land based natural resources in Africa and the potential of GMES & Africa contribution for the growth of Blue Economy in Africa. Services, Training, infrastructure and awareness raising are the four key pillars of the GMES & Africa Support Programme. Detailed discussions on how the GMES and Africa Support Programme operates, how fifty five African member states benefits from the Programme has been conducted in the poster session at the Exhibition area.
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The GMES & Africa Support Programme (G&A) is jointly financed by the African Union Commission and European Commission. It uses Earth Observation and space technologies to generate information and services for sustainable development of African people and sustainable environmental management on land and marine resources. 
GMES & Africa aimed at improving African policy-makers' and planners' capacities to design, implement, and monitor national, regional and continental policies and to promote sustainable management of natural resources through the use of Earth Observation data and derived information.
A successor Programme of the Monitoring for Environment and Security in Africa (MESA), G&A presents several key innovations: For the first time, with the inclusion of the north African countries, the Programme is pan African. It is totally managed by the African Union Commission. It will promote the broadcast of Sentinel data (Copernicus Programme). It will include the African private sector and national/regional academia.