African institutions to benefit from free access to Copernicus Data

The African Union Commission (AUC) and the European Commission (EC) are about to roll out an initiative that will avail African institutions free access to Copernicus data. The initiative is grounded on an agreement signed in 2018 between the two commissions, to be implemented jointly by the European Space Agency (ESA) and 12 pioneer African institutions. 

12 juin 2018, signature in Brussels of the Cooperation Arrangement between AUC and EC, represented respectively (left to right) by Mr  Mahama Ouedraogo, Director AU Human Resources Sciences and Technologies, and Mr Philippe Brunet, Director for space, Copernicus programme and Defence.

A kick-off meeting between the AUC, EC, ESA and the participating institutions was held recently, to discuss the technical operating approach to be adapted by all the parties involved in the initiative. 

Based on a first assessment, Africa has different needs in terms of access to Sentinel data, which is why ESA plans to design an approach that mirrors data requirements in the five regions of Africa. The beneficiary institutions will access Sentinel data through Data Hubs operated by ESA, Copernicus Data and Information Access Services, exploitation platforms, and through Hub to Hub exchanges of Sentinel data. 

The application of Copernicus Sentinel data has contributed to socio-economic development in. It has been instrumental in driving successful environmental and water resources management; renewable energy; climate change monitoring; tourism; as well as disaster management. 

The initiative to avail such data access to African institutions comes against the background of a burgeoning African Space programme, one of the flagships of the Agenda 2063 development blueprint. To this end, the AUC developed an African Space Policy and Strategy to harness and deploy the continent’s potential in utilizing space towards its socio-economic endeavours.

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