Press Release

Earth observation in support to the development of Africa

By SpaceRef Editor
December 2, 2005
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Earth observation in support to the development of Africa

On 7th December 2005, the African partners of the PUMA project (Preparation for the Use of Meteosat Second Generation in Africa) will present the results this inititiative funded by the European Commission during a workshop co-organised by the unit in charge of the Space Policy at the EC and EUMETSAT. They will also discuss the future of Earth observation in support to the development of Africa and the link with the European Space Policy currently under elaboration.

The African meteorological community created the PUMA working group (Preparation for the Use of Meteosat Second Generation in Africa) in 1996, with the support of EUMETSAT and the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO). Its mandate was to generate funds so that all the National Meteorological Services (NMS) of Africa could have access to the environmental data furnished mainly by the European MSG satellite. The PUMA Group included 5 regional economic groupings, the NMS, the WMO and EUMETSAT. The Financing Agreement for the project was signed in January 2001.

PUMA has a unique character in a number of ways.

  • It is a project Of continental size with a unique management structure, financed by the EDF and by bilateral funds for non-ACP countries;
  • Long term, based on proven information systems and a critical mass of 350 trained experts;
  • Based on guaranteed free access to the environmental data distributed by EUMETCast for at least 18 years. A balanced content

PUMA has three components:

  • EUMETCast receive stations, providing access to data via the Digital Video Broadcast (DVB) standard, perfectly adapted to Africa and based on simple solutions (PCs and TV receive antennas).
  • Training in the use and maintenance of the stations and use of the environmental data. This training has been programmed at acknowledged African centres (EAMAC (Niamey), IMTR (Nairobi) and the South African Weather Service).
  • Pilot projects easing access to data for the whole body of African decision-makers, not just those benefiting from the project. The themes covered are: tracking the water resources of the Kasai (RDC), continuous monitoring of desertification (Niger), management of the fish food chain (Senegal), operational use of MSG in southern Africa (South Africa), degradation of natural resources (Kenya) and fisheries management (Mauritius).

The Puma project was completed on 30th September 2005 with all its objectives attained. Follow-up of the PUMA project: AMESD PUMA has also prepared the future, by means of the signature by the Executive Secretaries of the 5 regional economic groupings in September 2002 of a ‘Dakar Declaration’, which requests the European Commission to launch a new initiative ‘AMESD’ (Environmental Monitoring for Sustainable Development for Africa). AMESD is based on exploiting the technical, institutional and thematic experience which has been acquired in PUMA. AMESD will form the basis of the African element of the European initiative for Global Monitoring for the Environment and Security (GMES). 

More information

La stratégie de l’UE pour l’Afrique: vers un pacte euro-africain pour accélérer le développement de l’Afrique (Communication)

AMESD – African Monitoring of the Environment for Sustainable Development

SpaceRef staff editor.