GMES Africa Holds 1st Technological Conference and 3rd Regional Meeting

The Global Monitoring for Environment and Security (GMES) and Africa Project has held its 1st Technological Conference and 3rd Regional Meeting under the theme, “Accelerating Technological Innovation Growth in West Africa”.

In a welcome address, the Registrar, Mrs. Emelia Agyei-Mensah expressed the University’s pride in leading a consortium of seven (7) institutions from West Africa to implement a project on marine and coastal head observation services for the Sub Region. Mrs. Agyei-Mensah noted that the youth are Africa’s greatest assets, and it is crucial they are introduced to entrepreneurship, through networking and capacity building initiatives. She was happy many young people who were participating in the conference were representing start-up companies vying for various awards as part of the GMES and Africa Incubation Challenge during the conference.

Registrar, Mrs. Emelia Agyei-Mensah

Prof. Boateng Onwona-Agyeman, Provost, College of Basic and Applied Sciences, in a speech delivered on behalf of the Vice–Chancellor, explained that the University’s science and technological capacity building effort is geared towards developing world class scientists to meet national and global developmental needs. Prof. Onwona-Agyeman charged the GMES and Africa marine consortium to see their role as partners to realising the worth of the oceans to Africa’s economic freedom. “We are endowed with rich coastal and marine resources and we can only maximise their benefits when we are able to exploit them in a sustainable manner”, he said.

Prof. Boateng Onwona-Agyeman, Provost, College of Basic and Applied Sciences

The Chief Director of Ministry of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation, Mrs. Cynthia Asare Bediako, who delivered the keynote address on behalf of Dr. Kwaku Afriyie, the Minister, congratulated the University and GMES and Africa for hosting a unique and important event in Ghana. She encouraged the partners of the consortium to continue in their effort to find lasting solutions to challenges in the marine environment.

She stated that the Blue Economy has the great potential of turning Africa’s fortunes around, if sustainably managed or harnessed since Africa’s Blue Economy generates close to $300 billion and is expected to increase beyond half a trillion dollars by the end of the century. Thus, it has the potential of creating millions of jobs for the continent to overcome poverty.

Mrs. Bediako encouraged GMES and Africa to take stock by assessing their contribution to the achievement of the Blue Economy and other environmental issues with Phase one of the programme coming to an end in December 2021.

She commended GMES for their ocean monitoring, coastal ecosystems and habitats assessment and ocean forecast dissemination activities which she described as critical services for the purposes of national and continental decision making.

She further noted the Ministry of Environment, Science, Technology, and Innovation is engaging with the World Bank on initiatives aimed at addressing some of the concerns that contribute to maximising the potentials of Blue Economy. Mrs. Cynthia Asare Bediako entreated the project team to also disseminate and collaborate widely so that the nation meets its SDG goal on ‘Poverty Reduction, No hunger and Health for All’.

The GMES and Africa Coodinator, African Union Commission, Dr. Tidiane Ouattara, announced that in responding to global needs to manage the environment, understand and mitigate the effects of climate change, GMES and Africa supports Africa’s Blue Economy sectors made up of the following marine consortia: Northern, Western, Eastern and Southern Africa. He emphasised that the GMES and Africa mantra of “Earth Observation for the Africa We Want” seeks to leverage the use of technologies, more specifically Earth Observation (EO) data, to access, monitor and forecast marine and coastal environments based on the Copernicus initiative.

“There are many examples where GMES and Africa, as a Pan African EO programme, has made a significant difference. By invigorating skills transfer, data sharing and collaboration among African institutions, and by raising the bar for private sector, youth and women involvement for example, it has transformed the EO landscape in Africa,” Dr. Ouattara declared.

Dr. Tidiane Ouattara (left) Dr. Mahama Ouedraogo (right)

Naval Captain Samuel Ayalazonu, Director, Naval Administration, Ghana Navy, highlighted the relevance of maritime security and law enforcement as key approaches that must be employed in order to address the challenges such as illegal fishing. He also urged all participants to collaborate with all maritime stakeholders to ensure marine security for the Blue Economy to thrive.

Prof. Denis Worlanyo Aheto, Director, Centre for Coastal Management, University of Cape Coast, who chaired the event, indicated that West African Region’s marine and coastal resource management challenges could be attributed to improper land use practices. He also noted that timely and sustained head observation data based on rigorous science and scientific policies will help strengthen institutions within the sub-region, while building on human capacities for efficient delivery of the desired activities.

Prof. Aheto was delighted the project is partnering with twelve countries within the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to support the effective management of marine and coastal resources for food security and safety of fisherman.

Other dignitaries present at the conference were Mrs. Marta Brignone, Program Officer, Macro Economics and Trade Session, European Union Delegation to Ghana; Dr. Tidiane Ouattara, GMES and African Program Coordinator; Dr. Mahama Ouedraogo, Director, Department of Education, Science, Technology and Innovation, Addis Ababa and Mrs. Elizier T. Ameyaw-Buronyah, Director, Public Affairs Directorate, University of Ghana.

Participants at the conference were individuals from parts of Africa and Europe including Cote D’Ivoire, Benin, Nigeria, Cameroon, Senegal, Tunisia, Egypt, Morocco, Kenya, Ethiopia and Portugal.