By Musa Sunusi Ahmad
A newly released report Unlocking the Potential of Earth Observation to address Africa’s critical challenges lays out the multiple economic benefits from EO data. The report was written in collaboration with Digital Earth Africa, an initiative that is a world first in providing freely accessible data that maps the entire African continent.
This report marks the first known time the potential impact of EO for Africa has been quantified. According to estimates, EO could be worth up to USD2-billion a year thanks to:
A strengthened EO industry. Improved use of EO data could lead to an extra USD500-million in yearly EO sales along with new job opportunities and increased fiscal revenues.
Boosted agricultural productivity. Better data could potentially be worth an extra USD900-million a year, thanks to water savings and productivity gains for farmers, not to mention reduced pesticide usage.
Better regulation of gold mining activity. Data allows countries to crack down on illegal mining, providing a potential savings of at least USD900-million from reduced environmental damage and fiscal evasion.
The report shows the opportunity available in EO data to strengthen economies and reach sustainability goals. EO data can help governments make more informed decisions regarding water, agriculture, food security and urbanisation. Advancing new collaborations between public and private efforts can incentivise data sharing to develop EO industries on the continent even further.
Dr. Adam Lewis, managing director of the Digital Earth Program welcomes the findings of the report as the first of its kind to quantify the potential benefits of the program. “Through collaboration with key partners both within Africa and across the globe, we have made significant progress in turning this potential into a reality. Over the last 12 months the program has met a number of milestones in improving access to data and services within Africa. Working with Amazon Web Services as well as international space agencies and the private sector, we have been able to provide access to locally stored analysis-ready satellite data within Africa,” says Adam.
“We are proud to support Digital Earth Africa’s efforts to make Earth observation data more easily accessible to African nations,” says Ana Pinheiro Privette, lead for Amazon Sustainability Data Initiative. “Through the Amazon Sustainability Data Initiative, Amazon is making available petabytes of Earth observation data, which provide valuable insights for communities to manage climate impacts including increased floods and droughts,” says Privette.
Valuing the impact of EO is an emerging practice globally, with recent reports covering the Asia Pacific, Australia, the European Union and the UK, but this is the first such report for Africa. The report was developed following examination of the readiness of African countries to effectively and efficiently grow their geospatial capabilities, integrated with study of the potential economic benefit of EO data adoption on specific sustainable development focus areas.