The 12th session of the European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites (EUMETSAT) biennial User Forum in Africa opened in Kigali yesterday.
Scheduled to take place from September 12 to 16, the meeting is organised by EUMETSAT in collaboration with Rwanda Meteorology Agency.
It brought together up to 200 participants from 57 countries representing National Meteorological and Hydrological Services from Africa and Europe, African regional institutional bodies, government agencies and regional scientific and technical institutions, with the objective of discussing the future of satellite data usage in Africa.
EUMETSAT is a European intergovernmental organisation with a current total of 30 European member states responsible for the launch and operation of satellites and delivering satellite data to end-users in Africa and Europe as well as contributing to the operational monitoring of climate and the detection of global climate changes. All the data given to African countries is free of charge.
In particular, delegates will consider how to prepare for the transition to the Meteosat Third Generation and the start of Meteosat-8 operations over the Indian Ocean region, which is expected to improve cyclone predictions in the area, by furnishing users with a wider suite of products than those currently provided by Meteosat-7.
According to Vincent Gabaglio, the international relations officer at EUMETSAT, the meeting will also seek to continue the well-established dialogue between EUMETSAT and the African user communities.
“This forum is giving an opportunity for us to have all our users in Africa in a single room for a week discussing with them about the use of the data we give them, what they use to improve, our plans for new satellites,” he said ahead of the meeting last week.
The agenda includes discussions on the upgrade of the preparation of the use of Meteosat Second Generation in Africa (PUMA) reception stations as part of the MESA (Monitoring of Environment and Security in Africa) programme which is a component of the joint Africa-EU strategy.
Particular attention will be given to the use of satellite data for monitoring climate change and improving disaster resilience in Africa.
“Data from EUMETSAT’s geostationary meteosats are vital to support now-casting and very short-range forecasting of high-impact weather, which is particularly important for Africa. With more than 30 years of consistent data, they also are an asset for the understanding of climate change,” Alain Ratier, director-general of EUMETSAT, said in a statement.
“Ensuring the long-term continuity of these data services for Africa and easy access by the users is essential. It requires that EUMETSAT and its user community in Africa work hand in hand to prepare for a smooth transition towards the new generation of satellites, notably Meteosat Third Generation.”
For the case of Rwanda, the country benefits from EUMETSAT through accessing existing satellite data used in weather forecasting and its applications; capacity building in satellite meteorology; and provision of equipment for exploitation of satellite information in real time.
John Ntaganda Semafara, director-general of Rwanda Meteorology Agency, said the data received from EUMETSAT satellites is important for the country’s meteorology.
“The free access to satellite data provided by EUMETSAT allows our country to better monitor the weather, the climate and the environment. It complements our own investments in these critical areas and facilitates the successful implementation of the National Green Growth and Climate Resilience Strategy programmes,” he said.