Earth observation data services and products organisation Digital Earth Africa signed an agreement on Thursday with the South African National Space Agency (Sansa), which will see the latter host the former’s Programme Management Office (PMO). Digital Earth Africa exists to provide partners (governments, private sectors, scientists, civil society organisations) across Africa with analyses and products derived from Earth observation data, in order to facilitate sustainable development.
“It has always been fundamental for Digital Earth Africa to become fully operational in Africa, and I am delighted to announce this vital step in Digital Earth Africa’s growth,” stressed Digital Earth Africa Establishment Team MD Adam Lewis. “An Africa-based PMO allows us to tailor our platform even more to the needs of our users. It also signals an important step towards the complete transition of Digital Earth Africa to be owned and run by African organisations and stakeholders.”
Currently, Digital Earth Africa is jointly funded by the Leona M and Harry B Helmsley Charitable Trust and the Australian government. Australia is providing operational and technical expertise from its Digital Earth Australia programme. The intent has always been that Digital Earth Africa would be institutionalised, based and staffed in Africa.
“Sansa has as its vision ‘an integrated National Space Capability that responds to socioeconomic challenges in Africa by 2030’,” highlighted Sansa CEO Dr Val Munsami. “The coordination of the PMO through Sansa aligns with and supports the objectives of using space knowledge and technology to the benefit of all citizens on the continent. Moreover, it gives impetus to an operational African space programme that has been on the cards for a while.”
Sansa was selected to host the PMO, in Pretoria, following a careful assessment process by an independent panel. Representatives of African organisations formed the majority on that panel. Having the PMO based in Africa will further strengthen Digital Earth Africa’s network of partnerships across the continent. During the rest of this year and into next year the Digital Earth Africa Establishment Team will work with Sansa to move functions from the Team into the PMO.
The agreement between Sansa and Digital Earth Africa was concluded within the framework provided by a contract between Sansa and Geoscience Australia. “Geoscience Australia is delighted to see such an active step taken towards achieving Digital Earth Africa’s vision and mission,” affirmed Geosciences Australia Place, Space and Communities Division chief and Digital Earth Africa Governing Board co-chairperson Alison Rose. “I, and the rest of the Board, look forward to working with Sansa to guide the transition of the programme to Africa.”