Applications of Space Techniques for Sustainable Development in Africa

  • Ait Belaid M.


The present paper aims at presenting the state of the art in terms of operational applications of space techniques in Africa, particularly in the fields of Geographic Information Systems, Remote Sensing, and Global Navigation Satellite Systems. The methodology adopted is subdivided into three steps: 1) Assessment of Spatial Data Infrastructure, 2) Analysis of Space Technique Applications, and 3) Education and training of Qualified Human Resources. The assessment of Spatial Data Infrastructure allowed highlighting the African reference frames namely African Doppler Survey, and African Geodetic Reference Frame. This assessment also includes earth observation satellite systems developed by the following countries: Algeria, Egypt, Morocco, Nigeria and South Africa. There are a number of regional organizations, along with a number of Symposia and fora being held at regular basis. Space techniques were used in operational ways to conduct development projects in collaboration with other organizations at national, regional or continental levels: examples of ARTEMIS project for rainfall forecasting, AFRICOVER project for land cover mapping, supported by United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization. CAMELEO and WATERMED projects were conducted respectively for desertification monitoring and water use efficiency in collaboration with the countries of North Africa, which were supported by the European Commission. ROSELT project has been conducted by Sahara and Sahel Observatory. GRID Database and Global Environmental Outlook Reports were established by UNEP. World Bank has also established a series of Environmental Information Systems. The review of space education and training of qualified human resources showed that there are two United Nations Regional Centers for Space Sciences and Technology Education in Nigeria for English speaking countries and in Morocco for French speaking countries. The review also showed that 13 African countries out of 69 countries are member states of the United Nations Committee on Peaceful Uses of Outer Space. In summary, space techniques/applications along with conventional methods are being used in Africa depending on the needs of countries, regions and sub-regions to find out appropriate solutions for natural resources management, environmental monitoring, urban and regional planning, costal and marine ecosystems, environmental impact assessment, hazards and crisis management, health care and socio-economical conditions monitoring.