CSIR puts best foot forward in Angola GMES & Africa workshop

 

CSIR team and partners during the workshop

The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) registered a strong presence in the just concluded Global Monitoring for Environment and Security and Africa (GMES & Africa) Southern African Regional Workshop held in Luanda Angola.

During the three-day forum that took place from 5th to 7th June, 2023, CSIR and her partners under the Africa Marine and Coastal Operations for Southern Africa (MarCOSIO) project presented products and technical services developed under the GMES & Africa programme.

The workshop which was themed “Earth Observation bridging the gap between science and policy” was sponsored by the African Union Commission and the European Union. EU was represented by Mr Danilo Barbero. Over 100 people including students on a training programme, attended the function.

CSIR in collaboration with the Southern African Science Service Centre for Change and Adaptive Land Management (SASSCAL) co-hosted the event that was officially opened by the Minister of Higher Education Science Technology and Innovation Hon Prof Maria do Rosário Bragança.

 

Extreme Left, Minister of Higher Education Science Technology and Innovation Hon Prof Maria do Rosário Bragança and CSIR and SASSCAL team led by AUC’s Dr Tidianne Quattara during a courtesy visit on Angolan Vice President her Excellency Esperanca Maria da Costa (4th Left)

 

In her opening remarks, the Minister hailed the workshop as a perfect platform to gather stakeholders together to share knowledge and best practices on earth observation systems.

The meet with the Minister culminated in a courtesy call to the office of the Angolan Vice President on the final day of the workshop where issues of mutual interest were discussed.

In a statement read by Advocate Lulekwa Makabela, CSIR appreciated SASSCAL for co-hosting the workshop, describing it as a vital platform for discussing the need for policy framework, support systems and opportunities to develop earth observation services for sustainable development in Africa. The workshop was also aimed at exploring potential areas of cross-fertilization.

Relevant Earth Observation data is key

According to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) publication for climate change in Southern Africa of 2013, it is reported that Africa, especially Southern Africa is continuously faced with climate change and variability, natural disasters, and environmental degradation which has a negative impact on agricultural production and economic productivity.

Echoing the content of the report, CSIR in her statement said South Africa is still in the process of economic recovery as a result of the devastation occasioned by natural disasters.

“People suffer more from natural disasters such as drought, fires, floods and so on. South Africa has suffered from natural disasters which has put her technological capability to test,” read Advocate Lulekwa.

According to the statement, floods in KwaZulu-Natal in April 2022, killed at least 400 people and left scores of others homeless after their homes were washed away by raging floods.  The infrastructure was not spared either leading to negative economic impact.

In 2017, South Africa experienced fires in the Western Cape Province, with far-reaching socio-economic and environmental impact, and in Sierra Leone, landslides left hundreds of people dead.

It is against this background that the GMES & Africa programmes are modelled around to assist African countries develop capability to mitigate the effects of climate change, and inform drafting of relevant policies by adopting futuristic earth observation technology.

CSIR emphasized that earth observation systems continue to compile more information of higher quality from more innovative sources than ever before.

“To prosper in 21st Century, we require knowledge and data. And whereas people say data is money, CSIR says information saves lives because it helps to make decisions that address societal concerns,” the statement read.

In 2021, CSIR, under MarCOSIO project, rolled out a tool for small-scale and artisanal fishers to manage data in one place.

Collaboration is key to The CSIR

CSIR said that she collaborates with stakeholders in South Africa and beyond the continent. It supports African Union development agencies to implement various industrialization, science and technological strategies. “Collaboration is central to CSIR strategies and we work with a broad range of organizations, companies, government departments, education institutions and state owned entities in all our focus areas which entail energy, health, defence, security and digital environments,” read the statement.

 

Advocate Lulekwa Makapela (CSIR)

 

CSIR is also the proud host of the National Earth Observation and Space Secretariat (NEOSS) and the lead consortium for the marine and Coastal operations in Southern Africa. She provides decision-makers with services and tools for sustainable economic development goals that are national, regional and continental.

The developments achieved through NEOSS and marine and coastal operations therefore build on the successes and best practices of the GMES & Africa programmes for potential areas of cross-fertilization with other national, regional and global programmes.

CSIR is looking forward to opportunities to devise strategies in long-term collaboration areas, and will in the second phase of GMES & Africa project focus on operationalization of the innovations already rolled out.

In his remarks, GMES & Africa MarCOSIO lead and contract manager Mr Sives Govender of CSIR unpacked various technical services developed by the consortium and highlighted their impact on the beneficiaries.

At the workshop, CSIR team delivered insightful presentations on the innovations in maritime, marine, aquaculture and fisheries, among others.

He mentioned that MarCOSIO consortium is comprised of 11 partner countries. “GMES & Africa is uniquely positioned to provide opportunities for collaboration and capacity building worth creating synergies between different countries to solve earth observation issues in those countries,” said Mr Govender.

Mr Peter shares experiences on sea safety

Dr Marie Smith, a Senior Researcher from CSIR announced that a water quality app will soon be unveiled, an addition to earlier innovations developed under MarCOSIO.

CSIR Principal Researcher Dr Bolelang Sibolla emphasized on the need to build capacity and offer training to increase uptake of the earth observation technologies.

AUC’s and Space Techonology Expert Dr Tidianne Quattara, CSIR Drs Marie Smith, Bolelang Sibolla and Mr Yeshalem Naicker at the workshop.

Speaking on behalf of African Union Commission (AUC) and in his capacity as space expert Dr Tidianne Quattara acknowledged the work that is being done by CSIR team in meeting the objectives of the earth observation initiatives under GMES & Africa project.

He said AUC takes cognizance of the outcome of services developed by CSIR and SASSCAL. Dr Quattara added that he expects both consortiums to serve as catalysts for transformative actions in empowering the members, and specifically the beneficiaries. The products should also help end users make decisions that positively impact the environment, economy and society at large to promote sustainable management of available resources.

“The services offer invaluable insights and tools to enhance our coastal resilience, foster sustainable livelihoods and protect our ecosystems for future generations. By harnessing the knowledge and resources offered by these services, we can address the pressing challenges we face such as climate change, biodiversity loss and sustainable development,” said Dr Quattara.

CSIR’s counterpart SASSCAL, through Executive Director Dr Jane Olwoch said they developed a geoportal in the first phase of the GMES & Africa project to provide data, and the team is now embarking on operationalizing the portal to avail services to the user.

“We are committed to using timely and readily available information that empowers stakeholders,” said Dr Olwoch.

CSIR appreciates being part of the first and second phase of GMES & Africa project, and is firmly committed to continue managing the programme to meet the intended objectives.

Women in GMES & Africa Fireside Chat

On the first day of the workshop, women in GMES & Africa drawn from diverse professions in the blue economy held talks to highlight challenges they face in the discharge of their duties. The panel discussion chaired by SASSCAL Executive Director Dr Jane Olwoch sought to give women an opportunity to share experiences and explore ways of streamlining their concerns in GMES & Africa agenda.

From left, SASSCAL Executive Director Dr Olwoch, WIOMSA’s Ms Molelu, KMFRI’s Ms Kiguta, SASSCAL’S Ms Chenai and Angola’s Ms Stenia.

 

Female participants drawn from South Africa, Angola, Kenya, among other GMES & Africa partner countries included Ms Obakeng Molelu of Western Indian Ocean Marine Science Association (WIOMSA), Kenya Marine and Fisheries Research Institute’s (KMFRI) Ms Jane Kiguta SASSCAL’s Ms Chenai Marangwanda, as well as Ms Stenia Costa and Ms Marina Rafael from Angola.

Women in GMES & Africa network help in identifying and understanding gaps in women’s participation in various sectors of the blue economy, and come up with modalities of empowering them. The network of women also promotes the role of women in earth observation science and technology.  It also offers opportunities for training and capacity building, funding for projects, scholarships, and encourages more women to take up jobs in earth observation science and technology. The platform also helps African women in setting out their priorities with a view to ensure that these are streamlined in international programmes, funding modalities and positions on blue economy.

 

 

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