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ESA EO AFRICA National Incubators

As highlighted in African Union Agenda 2063 and the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), Earth Observation (EO) from space is identified as an essential digital technology providing a crucial segment of the information required for progress on sustainable development in Africa.

The ESA initiative, EO AFRICA (African Framework for Research Innovation, Communities and Applications) aims to facilitate the sustainable adoption of EO and related space technology in Africa, by building an African-European Research & Development partnership. Through this program African and European researchers and experts will work together to exchange knowledge, co-design and co-develop EO applications in order to respond to African research challenges. The unprecedented EO data streams from the European Copernicus programme, latest data analytics, Artificial Intelligence and Big Data concepts will be applied to create African solutions engaging local stakeholders to ensure African ownership.

The 3 main activity lines of EO AFRICA are as follows:

  • Facilitate African-European R&D collaboration
  • Leverage cloud computing technology for African EO data accessibility
  • R&D Project activities of different types (Explorers, National Incubators and Continental Demonstrations)

The EO AFRICA R&D Facility was initiated in 2021 to facilitate African-European collaboration, build an active research community and enable creative innovation processes for continuous development of EO capabilities in Africa.

As part of the program a Digital Innovation Lab [ET2] will be developed to support scientists accessing EO data (in-situ and EO), cloud computing, high-level products and open-source tools for developing EO applications adapted to African solutions.

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The main objectives of the EO AFRICA National Incubators, are to develop innovative EO-based solutions in close collaboration with African experts, addressing sustainable agriculture and/or drought monitoring at a national scale.

It is important that relevant African end-user entities and their needs are central to all stages of the project, to ensure that the developed solutions achieve the maximum benefit. Therefore the EO-based solution should be developed by taking a collaborative approach between the African organisations and European EO experts throughout the stages of the development. Leveraging on agile methodology, the African end-users should be proactively involved in prototype design, iterative testing, validation of the outputs and integration of the final solution into their operational practices.