African scientists meet in Windhoek

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Earth observation experts, educators, researchers and scientists from 19 universities across the continent met at the Namibia University of Science and Technology this week for a weeklong exchange of information on the subject of Earth observation and space technology, as part of the Monitoring of Environment and Security in Africa (MESA) university training workshop.

NUST Vice Chancellor Professor Tjama Tjivikua said the purpose of the meeting is to showcase available MESA capacity-building materials, Earth observation data, and to train university staff to manage and maintain the MESA university satellite receiving stations to be installed in all participating universities.

”The objective of this week’s workshop is to encourage uptake and inclusion of Earth observation techniques and MESA-generated data and resource materials into their respective curricula and teaching, in order to ensure a sustainable supply of Earth observation professionals for the future,” Tjivikua said.

In May 2015 NUST, the University of Botswana and the University of Zambia signed a collaborative agreement to implement a Master of Science programme in geographical information science, remote sensing and Earth observation.

The MESA project has installed seven stations at the Namibia Metrological Service, at facilities belonging to the Ministry of Agriculture, at NUST and at the University of Namibia.

Minister of Agriculture, Water and Forestry John Mutorwa complimented the Monitoring for Environment and Security in Africa (MESA) project team for their efforts to develop and upgrade the agriculture, drought monitoring, wildfire monitoring and flood monitoring information services.

The European Union budget for the MESA thematic action in the SADC region is about €4.5 million, which is dedicated to the development and implementation of the MESA-SADC Thematic Action and Agriculture and Environmental Resource Management programme in the region.

Speaking at the same event Markus Theobald, a member of the European Union delegation to Namibia, noted that African universities play a crucial role in contributing to national, regional and continental policy and decision-making, by providing evidence-based solutions through research and by educating tomorrow’s scientists about the role of space for sustainable development.

“Our support to satellite-based Earth observation stretches from continental to regional and national and local level,” he said. Theobald said the EU programme is now being taken beyond EU borders in the context of Global Monitoring for Environment and Security (GMES) and Africa Initiative Africa Earth Observation capacities.

“This initiative is closely linked to the European Copernicus programme, which marks the beginning of a new area in Earth observation, with the conclusion of its new state-of-the-art satellites, known as Sentinels. These satellites will provide detailed information about our planet to help us understand how we can manage our environment better and protect people from disasters,” he said.