GMES & Africa participates in 2nd MESA Forum, 24-28 April 2017
Brice Montfraix
20 April 2017

The goal of the 2nd MESA Forum is to enhance exchanges with policy makers and the general public on MESA achievements in addressing environmental challenges, including lessons learnt and perspectives for GMES & Africa and other programs.

Why does GMES and Africa participate?

The first reason is that GMES & Africa is a significant part for the implementation of the African Space Policy and Strategy executed through the AUC as the delegated authority. 
Secondly, GMES and Africa is designed to take over MESA facilities, structures and operations and therefore it is highly important and necessary that the GMES & Africa PMU participates in the Forum to ensure smooth transition process.


GMES & Africa is designed to build upon the achievements of predecessor programs, especially MESA. For the two services identified under GMES & Africa, a needs identification process is proposed involving an assessment and audit of the existing MESA stations, to identify stations that were not working, develop them and make them operational. GMES & Africa will also contribute to spatial data infrastructure by developing continental and regional geo-portals improving on what has been initiated in MESA in terms of providing information to the countries and regions in the continent. 

The GMES & Africa implementation action is to further identify cross-cutting needs in the continent and undertake the development and the implementation of the continental training strategy and plan. In addition, the transfer of the training infrastructure from MESA to GMES & Africa is necessary, including the Learning Management System (LMS), module development and validation. The LMS in MESA offers services needed for capacity building and remains vital for the system to be carried along in GMES & Africa. The GMES & Africa PMU, in collaboration with MESA, is expected to develop the transition strategy with respect to transferring and adapting the virtual networking platform and the learning management system to GMES & Africa. 

In the context of the policy and technical interface required for the transition from MESA to GMES & Africa, the 2nd MESA Forum is a continental platform to harness contributions of all stakeholders. It will be an avenue to strategize on aligning the MESA experience to the needs and priorities under GMES & Africa, and create a lunch pad for engaging both the technical and human resources of both programs to start building on what MESA has already achieved.   

The 2nd MESA Forum: Goals and Objectives

The overall objective of the Forum is to highlight the achievements of MESA, demonstrating how the MESA initiative has influenced policy development frameworks and informed decision making processes across Africa and how the initiative’s outcomes will support GMES & Africa and other related programs in Africa. 

The specific objectives of the MESA Forum are to:
  1. Present the status of the program, with emphasis on showcasing how MESA services are used in environmental policies in light of the livelihood benefits to African society. Each REC will illustrate how policies and decisions are supported by MESA and identify the major challenges ahead.
  2. Highlight human capital development strategies of the MESA program and the role of Universities in promoting MESA topics in the curriculum of African Universities. 
  3. Discuss the sustainability path of MESA. 
  4. Discuss Copernicus and new technology in Earth Observation with specific reference to the Sentinel and MTG data and their potential to improve access to data.
  5. Present GMES & Africa and long term EO climate data, and identify patterns to collaborate, sustain, complement and benefit from MESA.

Conclusions will be drawn at the end of the Forum and some key recommendations will be presented in a plenary session to the participants and included in the MESA Forum Proceedings.

The Forum is expected to among other things: revisit the project’s achievements and their potential for further improvements including, in-depth understanding of how MESA is impacting on Africa’s continental, regional and national policies; create deep understanding of the effectiveness and challenges of the human capacity development component of MESA and the role of universities; provide knowledge on how sustainability can be achieved in terms of EO applications with link to environment policies; improve knowledge on how the Copernicus and MTG programs can improve data access and EO applications for African Environmental policies; and contribute ideas on how GMES & Africa programs compliment and benefit from MESA.

MESA Forum Participants

Representative of the 48 participating African countries; the Regional Economic Communities; Representatives of African Ministerial Conferences (i.e. AMCEN, AMCOMET, AMCOW); the African Union Commission; the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Secretariat; the European Union; the African Development Bank; the United Nations Organizations (UNISDR, WMO, UNECA, UNDP, UNEP etc.); European Partners including EUMETSAT, JRC, ITC, ESA, CNES, ECMWF, NGOs; Development and Research institutions i.e. FEWSNET, Program and projects, the Africa Risk Capacity. Final beneficiaries of MESA project such as farmers, fishermen, etc. will also take part in the Forum (see annex for the draft institutions and participants).

High-Level Participants

(a) African Ministerial Bodies (i.e. AMCOMET, AMCOW, AMCEN etc.)
(b) The ACP Secretariat
(c) The African Union Commission
(d) The European Union
(e) The Government of Senegal
(f) The Regional Economic Communities
(g) Pan African Parliament
(h) Rectors of Universities

Rationale of GMES & Africa’s participation in 2nd MESA Forum

  • Revitalize and synergize practical actions on both sides for the transition from MESA to GMES & Africa. 
  • Create a shadow team of GMES & Africa staff to learn from the MESA team by working actively with their counterparts in coordinating the conduct of the Forum, since GMES & Africa will organize two forums of the same magnitude during the course of the program’s implementation.
  • Identify gaps in MESA successes and challenges for GMES & Africa to build on.
  • Learn from the thematic discussions and situate the agreements and recommendations from the MESA Forum within the context of GMES & Africa priorities and implementation plan.
  • Present GMES & Africa as the successor project to MESA, with a various reports on what has been done so far at the initial implementation phase.
  • Expose the GMES & Africa team to officials in MESA’s network, to build linkages, as well as continue and foster the institutional collaboration.
  • Embark on an intensive communications and publicity exercise to raise the visibility of GMES & Africa among its continental and global audience.