Following lengthy plans and discussion, European Union and Africa Union will soon launch space-based projects to study global warming. Information obtained from satellites and sensors in the Earth’s oceans and atmosphere will be ideal for policy makers in addressing issues such as food security and global warming.
A memo issued by EU on Monday reads, “Space technologies; infrastructure and services could play a positive role in the developing world to favor sustainable development and growth.” Some of policy makers it cites include fields such as health, food security, health, education, disaster management, and climate change adaptation.
This was announced during the 5th EU-Africa business Forum, underway in Brussels, where there are plans of implementing logistic works that have been ongoing for almost a decade.
The Copernicus project aims at creating a network of space satellites and sensors in the atmosphere, oceans and land to gather information. Sensors will monitor carbon emissions, melting glaciers, natural disasters, and greenhouse gases. Data obtained will be forwarded to policy makers who will use it to come up with better decisions.
In reference to their website, this is the European Union’s response to the increasing demand for accurate, reliable information.
The project has been aimed for African development since its launch in 2005 under the title GMES (Global Monitoring for Environment and Security).
A 2007 report from the Africa-EU partnership on Science, Information Society and Space reads that the use of space science for development presents considerable opportunities, and there is need to establish institutional arrangements for Africa to tap their benefits.
“Space-based systems can play a key enabling role in the attainment of Africa’s sustainable development objective and contribute to the monitoring of climate change,” it reads.
In a 2011 another report stated that Earth observation data or data obtained by satellite systems are essential for Africa, after citing the positive impact it could give for transportation safety and management of food and water resources.
In January 2012, environmental agencies form South Africa, Kenya, Egypt, Tunisia, and Nigeria cooperated with European partners for a $1.4 million plan to address water and natural resources including fisheries, groundwater, biodiversity, water scarcity, land resources, etc, in reference to their website.
It appears that the African private sector would benefit by taking stakes in the project which might be a great opportunity.
According Antonia Tajani, European Commission Vice President, and Commissioner for Development, it is a reality that there is an accelerating industrial development in Africa. He added that the European Union and Africa have genuine interest in increasing bilateral trade, investment, and market integration in mutually beneficial relations for development and job creation.
Has it worked?
Copernicus data has been used in 2012 by a Scottish and astrophysics to help urban planners reduce thermal waste. Data obtained form satellite helped them see where heat was being lost from buildings and other facilities, which they would then correct using retrofits and save money.
In another project based in Europe, data obtained from the satellite and monitors on earth and water enable spotting of algae blooms and its effect on sea animals.