Policy Makers Call for more Earth Observation Data to Manage Africa’s Marine & Coastal Areas

The first-ever 4-day ECOWAS and Global Monitoring for Environment and Security (GMES) and Africa conference has ended in Ivory Coast with a call on West African countries to consider usage of use Earth Observation (EO) products and services in decision making towards adaptation to climate change in the marine and coastal areas.

Policy makers, GMES experts and some key private sector partners at the GMES and Africa and ECOWAS conference

The conference which had a series of plenary sessions and workshops scheduled in between, brought together about 100 experts, students, policy makers and traditional leaders to deliberate on issues affecting the climate.

The three consortia working with the African Union Commission that came together are the marine consortium of the University of Ghana (Ghana), the lands consortium of the "Centre de Suivi Ecologique" (Senegal) and the African Regional Centre for Space Science & Technology Education (Nigeria). The workshop was held in Grand Bassam, Cote d'Ivoire, from 17 to 20 February 2020.

Prof. George Wiafe, Project Mgr. of the Univ. of Ghana's Consortium taking a section of participants through the Applications of EO data in the Marine and Coastal Areas of West Afric

Also present at the conference, was la Cote d'Ivoire's Minister for Environment and Sustainable Development, Prof Joseph Seka Seka, who charged researchers in Africa to share more knowledge and advice the various governments on climate change to promote adaptation other than vulnerability. "Climate change shouldn't be seen only as a fatality but an opportunity to be harnessed", he added. He mentioned that Ivory Coast is taking steps to address challenges confronting its marine sector by ratifying some conventions and agreements to ensure efficient implementation of plans and policies towards that, hence earth observation information and advice from researchers would be very helpful.

La Côte d'Ivoire's Minister for Environment and Sustainable Development, Prof Joseph Seka Seka

The Minister and the various leaders and experts from more than 25 countries represented at the conference, went round exhibition stands to have firsthand information on what the consortia and institutions are doing regarding the use of earth observation in managing our environment. 

Ivory Coast's Environment Minister and entourage at the University of Ghana's exhibition stand

At the University of Ghana's stand, they were taken through the products and services provided at the Regional Marine Centre, one of the 13 regional centres implementing the GMES-Africa programme. The Regional Marine Centre together with its 7 partners in West Africa are providing marine and coastal operational earth observation services to the 12 ECOWAS coastal countries namely Nigeria, Benin, Togo, Ghana, Cote d'Ivoire, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Senegal, Gambia and Cape Verde.

The Minister was impressed with the potential fishing zone maps overlaid with vessel traffic that is shared with fisheries managers to enhance their monitoring and surveillance efforts and conservation of fisheries resources.

Ivory Coast's Environment Minister impressed with the work of the University of Ghana's consortium.

He also appreciated among others, the ocean state information that is given to artisanal fishermen through mandated national institutions. The Minister was further informed about the consortium's effort in building capacity within the region and was introduced to two students, from Senegal and Cote d'Ivoire, studying at the Université Félix Houphouët-Boigny on GMES and Africa scholarship grants.

GMES and Africa is a continental earth observation programme, co-funded by the African Union and the European Union, and designed to provide operational services to various target users and to strengthen the exploitation and utilisation of Earth Observation systems, data and technologies towards the continent's sustainable development.

Regional Marine Centre, the University of Ghana Consortium, rmc@ug.edu.gh

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