Digital Earth Africa has launched its operations in Kenya in a planned move to boost research and spearhead policy-making processes across the country.
The state-of-the-art satellite office launched in Kenya, at the Regional Centre for Mapping of Resources for Development (RCMRD), will enable individuals to do research and analysis using open and ready-to-use data to empower communities with satellite information.
Earth observation data are satellite images of the whole of the African continent that goes back more than 30 years.
While launching the satellite office on the sidelines of the ongoing 7th Regional Centre for Mapping of Resources for Development International Conference (RIC 2023) in Nairobi, Dr Thembi Xaba, Managing Director of Digital Earth Africa said, “Accessing the data is free. And this will enable researchers to use earth observation data for transformation purposes.”
Earth observation data will enable governments, industry leaders and researchers to collaborate to address some of Africa’s most significant challenges-food security, habitat conservation and reducing the impact of climate change.
“One of the things that we are suffering from is climate change….and we are supporting climate action in particular.So if you want to understand how the agricultural season has changed, you actually can see it on our platform. How did agriculture look in the 1980s,90’s and 2000 and 2020’s all of that by analyzing,” said Zviko Mudimu, Head of Operations at Digital Earth Africa.
“For example, if you want to analyse Nairobi, how things looked between August 2022, and August 1995. And we are able to use that information to conduct research to see what are the changes that we are seeing in the environment, water management and coastal areas, for agriculture,” said Mudimu.
Mudimu said that the organisation chose Kenya because of the user demand and an existing partnership with the regional centre.
“We value partnerships and one of our close partners is the regional centre for monetary resources and development. We made a conscious decision to expand our first office out of South Africa into East Africa and specifically to our partner RCMRD. We chose Kenya to launch our satellite office because most number of users in our platforms are from Kenya,” noted Mudimu.
Dr Emmanuel Nkurunziza, Director General, Regional Centre for Mapping of Resources for Development noted how African nations are eager to use space capabilities to address socioeconomic challenges the continent face.
“This launch marks an important milestone for our centre. We will commit to continue to support this initiative to improve the use of earth observation data,” said Dr Nkurunziza.
Mudimu stressed the need to raise awareness of the availability of earth observation data.
“Let people know that this information is available. This is important because previously data that we are offering could take time to analyse, and be able to work with it. We can also help them build a use-case for a better understanding of what happened, ”said Mr Mudimu.
Kenya is already working with Digital Earth Africa on a project that will show how urbanization across African cities has grown.