By Ijeoma Olorunfemi
Nigerian Government has partnered with 39 other AU countries to ensure that environmental issues bedeviling the continent were ameliorated using Earth Observation Satellite data for policy making.
The countries gathered in Abuja on Monday for the second edition of the Global Monitoring for Environment and Security (GMES) and Western Africa Regional Exchange workshop under African Union Commission.
The 3-day workshop was organised by the National Space Research and Development Agency (NASRDA) in collaboration with University of Ghana and Centre de Suivi Écologique de Kenya (CSE-Environmental Monitoring Centre).
Dr Halilu Shaba, Director-General of NASRDA, said the workshop gathered experts to evaluate areas of insecurity and monitoring of the environment.
Shaba said that insecurity was a common problem among African countries and Earth Observation (EO) had been able to provide data to monitor the movements of bandits.
In the area of environmental sustainability, Shaba said that in 2022, the agency provided maps of areas that were flooded.
“We have done so much in the area of flood, what we are trying to do now is bring other African countries to speed, they may not have the capacity, facilities to deal with this.
“Nigeria for over 15 years have been serving as the regional support office for UN-SPIDER and UN-SPIDER activates chatter anytime there is flood.
“We have been doing so much but we need to engage in advocacy with actors that are managing these disasters,’’ he said.
Dr Tidiane Ouattara, Programme Coordinator for GMES and Africa, said the workshop served as a crucial platform for collaboration, knowledge sharing and fostering regional partnerships.
Ouattara said it was through such gatherings that the continent strengthened its collective commitment towards sustainable development and the protection of invaluable natural resources as stated in the AU Agenda of 2063.
“It is through collaboration, knowledge exchange, and cross-fertilisation of ideas that we can collectively tackle complex environmental issues.
“We encourage active participation and partnership from all stakeholders present here today and beyond, as we strive to build a sustainable and resilient Africa,’’ he said.
The programme coordinator recognised inputs from different stakeholders engaged in GMES, saying that AU commission placed great importance to their services.
Ouattara said: ”We expect them to serve as catalysts for transformative action, empowering member states, specifically the beneficiary end-users to make informed decisions that positively impact our environment, economy and society at large.
“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.”
Ouattara also said the AU was committed to gender equality and inclusivity, adding that it underscored dedication to promoting equitable opportunities, empowering women in environmental conservation and sustainable development.
He added: “We want to hear from our Western African GMES and Africa stakeholders, the concrete actions and the way forward with respect to human capital development and utilisation.
“We are here today because someone, yesterday, gave us our chance when we were students, looking for our first job, hence we should give more opportunities to our youths for the better future of Africa.’’
Dr Cheikh Mbow, Director-General of CSE, said the risks relating to the African environment were an impediment to continental development.
Mbow said that GMES was trying to take profit from modern technology like Artificial Intelligence, satellite data, new algorithms and big data analysis.
According to him, this will help to bring the evidence and device ways to invest in environmentally sustainable development.
He added that the workshop was held in Nigeria because it was the hub for human capacity and it is playing a frontline role in the climate change area, among other areas.
According to him, Nigeria will help champion the cause of mitigating environmental challenges.
Goodwill messages were made by Dr Benjamin Botwe from University of Ghana and Dr Matthew Adepoju, Director, Strategic Space Application of NASRDA. (NAN)
Edited by Bashir Rabe Mani