The AfriGEO Secretariat has moved from South Africa to Kenya, where is now hosted by the Regional Centre for Mapping of Resources for Development (RCMRD) in Nairobi, Kenya. Formerly known as AfriGEOSS, the initiative has been rebranded as AfriGEO to better reflect the initiative’s role as the regional GEO community in Africa.”
The move follows a recommendation of the 4th AfriGEO Steering Committee meeting, held in Gabon in June 2018. On behalf of the Steering Committee, current Chair South Africa’s Department of Science and Technology (DST) identified RCMRD as the future host for the Secretariat for a three-year period (2019 to 2021). The DST will provide funding for the initial operationalization of the Secretariat, while seeking further funding from the AfriGEO Member States.
“We are pleased to finally find a home for the AfriGEO secretariat in Africa. The good work that RCMRD centre does in Africa makes them a perfect platform for us to advance the message of GEO to the rest of the continent,” remarked the Chair of the Africa Caucus, Mmboneni Muofhe.
RCMRD, established in Nairobi in 1975, is an intergovernmental organisation with member states in Eastern and Southern Africa. Its programmes focus on sustainable applications in the management of natural resources, infrastructure and the environment using Earth Observations technologies, making it an appropriate host for the AfriGEO Secretariat.
“RCMRD is a centre of excellence in Africa that has made significant progress in advancing open data and Earth observations in the region,” said GEO Secretariat Gilberto Camara on the announcement, “We thank South Africa for its continued commitment to GEO and AfriGEO and we welcome RCMRD as the next Secretariat host. We are confident that they will be able to successfully advance GEO's mission in Africa, in close collaboration with the many partners contributing to this effort.”
AfriGEO is the Group on Earth Observations (GEO) regional initiative in Africa. The Pan-African initiative serves as a framework for coordinating and strengthening partnerships within Africa, and as a gateway to Africa for international partners. AfriGEO contributors include 27 Member Governments and nine Participating Organisations, while GEO as a whole has 105 Member governments and 127 Participating Organizations. RCMRD is one of the 9 Participating Organisations.
The new AfriGEO Secretariat will aim to strengthen connections with GEO's global partners, and expand regional engagement. The Secretariat will play an important role in ensuring increased awareness and use of Earth observation data in Africa, promoting long-term capacity development, and driving contributions to global, regional and African priorities including the Sustainable Development Goals and the African Union Agenda 2063.
Allocated funding under AfriGEO will support Earth observation applications, ensuring access to data and developing capacity. Priority will be given to supporting collaborative projects that improve food security and agriculture, sustainable urban development, water resource management, sustainable forest management, climate services and adaptation, the coordination of data infrastructure initiatives in Africa, and the mobilisation of financial and in-kind resources.
Communication and outreach will raise awareness on the many uses of Earth observations, networking and resource mobilisation opportunities, and calling for proposals that addresses critical gaps in priority areas.
The Secretariat will keep an updated database of national and regional institutions with Earth observation activities, and work to increase national and international collaboration in AfriGEO. This will include the development of applied and experimental technology and training initiatives in the region, with a particular focus on youth, women and small, medium and micro-enterprises. The Secretariat is also responsible for the annual AfriGEO Symposium.