African Association of Remote Sensing of the Environment (AARSE) is a participating organization in the Group on Earth Observations (GEO).
The AARSE delegation was led by Dr. Sias Mostert (AARSE: Treasurer) also present were Jane Bemigisha (LOC: AARSE 2016 Conference, Uganda), Ms. Barbara Ryan (Group on Earth Observations (GEO): Secretariat Director) and Bulelwa Semoli (AARSE: Southern Africa Representative) at the Symposium which was held at The Elephant Hills Hotel, Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe.
According to Bulelwa Semoli - the 1st Afrigeoss Symposium was a success with a good turnout from 32 African countries. She further notes that “the Afrigeoss supports the implementation of the African Union 2063 Agenda. It provides a platform to implement the Societal Benefits Areas (SBAs) in order to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It is also important that national and regional GEO initiatives are linked to the AU’s policies in order to make a meaningful impact.”
One of the outstanding presentations was the Australian Geoscience Data Cube and its result in unlocking the Landsat Archive spanning forty years of data. It’s a tool to be explored and was developed using open source software and standards.
(See http://www.datacube.org.au/ for more information)
The broad outcomes of the symposium are:
- Strengthening AfriGEOSS governance structure to improve information flow between national, regional and global structures. The members of the steering committee shall be increased to 2 per region, and the steering committee should undertake the regional promotion and participation in AfriGEOSS.
- Establishing national GEO coordination mechanisms through the establishment of national GEO structures in all member states, with the aim of improving the use of earth observation for policy formulation and decision making.
- To continuing the demonstration of the relevance of EO by showcasing applications, information products and services that respond to societal challenges, particularly in the proposed priority areas of forest management, food security, urban planning and water resource management.
- Investigating the implementation of a continental level body on Food Security and Agriculture (AfriGAM) for the harmonization of on-going projects and initiatives.
- Developing a community of practice for forest management in Africa and bringing together all existing projects and initiatives.
Dr. Sias Mostert foresees AfriGEOSS “as a platform for effective consensus building with regards to the needs and priorities of Africa and to unlock the potential of Africa when it comes to environmental and city management.”
Dr. Jane Bemigisha places the emphasis on the private sector: “Strengthening engagement of the private sector with Governments and the AfriGEOSS community will enhance access and use of the vast Earth Observation products, knowledge and expertise within the private business communities. However, the capacities of SMEs needs to be enhanced for them to deliver at required scales.”