Africa in Focus
Africa and the EU are working closely on implementing satellite navigation technologies that can make a major impact on economic development. The benefits that can be delivered by technologies such as EGNOS are considerable. But raising awareness of the opportunities with local business, academics and policy makers is very important. This is where the ‘Awareness in Africa’ project is making a real difference.
The use of satellite navigation and related technologies can significantly contribute to sustainable development in Africa. Applications using Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS) in areas such as transport, land management, maritime safety and the oil and mining industries can make a rapid impact with potential benefits estimated at several hundred million euros in the next few years.
Satellite navigation is an area of close Africa-EU cooperation and many European initiatives have been taken recently to support the provision of EU GNSS services over Africa.
The European Geostationary Navigation Overlay Service (EGNOS) has been operational since October 2009 and augments the conventional GPS signal providing enhanced accuracy and confidence in positional data. EGNOS satellite orbits already effectively cover Africa and initiatives are in progress to implement the necessary ground facilities and governance systems that could extend this valuable service across the continent.
In this context the GSA project ‘Awareness in Africa’ (AiA) has been launched with the aim of organising workshops in selected African countries to bring together relevant stakeholders from public institutions and the private sector and highlight the benefits of GNSS.
This time business for Africa
Three events have already been organised by AiA to promote EGNOS and Galileo. Two events took place in 2012: from 2 to 3 November in Libreville, Gabon and from 14 to 15 November in Dakar, Senegal. The third event was held from 7 to 8 February this year in Yaounde, Cameroon.
All three events attracted excellent participation from universities, government bodies and local enterprises. There was also considerable media interest.
The aim of the events was both to promote the capabilities of GNSS and its applications, in particular to demonstrate the intrinsic value of these technologies in the context of sustainable development and the fight against poverty. The workshops also helped in better understanding the barriers to deployment of satellite technology in these African states. A significant potential barrier is the perceived cost of implementation.
“So far the conferences have been successful in showing African stakeholders the utility of GNSS technologies,” says Justyna Redelkiewicz, GSA project officer for AiA. “We are hoping that this awareness will encourage development of applications suited to African needs and more international cooperation in this area leading to concrete actions to ensure African society and local business can benefit from the economic and social benefits that GNSS technology can bring.”
The conferences are helping to increase the number of users of GNSS applications, especially in smaller enterprises, and creating local and regional networks of experienced users.
Dakar conference 2013
This valuable work will continue at the end of May 2013 at an international conference on GNSS Technologies and Applications for the Development of Sub-Saharan African Countries. The conference will take place from 30 to 31 May 2013 in Dakar at the TEROUBI Hotel Dakar.
The event will further foster and promote African technical competences that have a clear potential for providing useful products and services through EGNOS and Galileo services and the space sector in general.
The meeting hopes to promote positive collaboration between African industrial organisations and university students, position local industry to take advantage of activities in this sector, and to introduce EU industry to this potentially attractive and growing market.
The Dakar meeting will also feature the Best African Student Paper Award 2013 that will reward the best academic papers submitted to the conference by African students. The ultimate winner will be invited to the final AiA conference to present their work. This event is scheduled to take place in Luxembourg during October 2013.
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