Rwanda has become the first country to sign up to a framework that paves the way for the establishment of the Climate Application and Prediction Centre for Central Africa, which will serve the 11 member states of the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS).
The centre, whose creation was agreed upon during the last ECCAS Heads of State and Government Summit held in Chad in May, last year, will provide much needed support to the bloc’s member states in terms of recording data, as well as forecasting and sharing information related to weather and climatic conditions.
The centre, which will be hosted in Cameroon, is expected to start operations next year.
Rwanda on Monday signed up to the Kigali Declaration on the Establishment of the Climate Application and Prediction Centre for Central Africa on the sidelines of a meeting of the Organisation for Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites (EUMETSAT) User Forum in Africa, a gathering of global climate specialists and meteorologists.
The declaration represents the strongest commitment to date to make the centre a reality, officials said.
Other member states are expected to sign the document in due course.
Rwanda was readmitted into ECCAS last year, eight years after it had withdrawn from the grouping in favour of the East African Community (EAC).
Natural Resources minister Vincent Biruta highlighted the important role that meteorological data and climate information play in sustainable development.
He said coming together reaffirms regional support for the climate agency and underscores the regional states’ commitment to take the next step in “turning our words into action and making the centre a reality.”
“For countries that are most vulnerable to climate change like Rwanda, and indeed for all countries across Central Africa, we need timely, accurate and reliable climate predictions to manage the changes in our climate and weather. The establishment of the Climate Application and Prediction Centre for Central Africa will support member countries to enhance our capacity in weather and climate prediction,” Biruta said.
He said the kind of information from EUMETSAT does not exist in a vacuum, rather it forms an integral part efforts to support national development, while ensuring the wellbeing of citizens and protecting the environment.
During the signing ceremony, Thérèse Chantal Mfoula, assistant secretary-general of ECCAS, and Hassan Adoum Bakhit Haggar, commissioner for infrastructure and sustainable development at ECCAS, commended Rwanda for its commitment to the centre and called on all the member states to offer their support.
A statement from Rwanda Meteorology Agency indicates that Central Africa is the only region on the continent without a functioning climate centre.
The centre will facilitate the development and provision of climate services at the regional and national level, and allow for the streamlining of climate information into various regional priority areas such as disaster resilience, food security and agriculture, fishing and aquaculture, natural resources management, water resource management and health.
The declaration was signed by Dr Biruta, Mfoula, Haggar, and Dr Josua Dione, senior advisor to the African Union Commissioner for Rural Economy and Agriculture.