GMES & Africa’s first phase consists of two main Services, and each is structured into Components, Themes and finally Applications. This design takes into account the needs expressed in the 2013 South Africa GMES & Africa Validation Workshop, the predecessor projects, particularly those gathered from MESA (to facilitate the continuation and expansion of current services), and the Copernicus Programme and structure.
The Action will set-up the following two Services through African thematic, scientific and academic networks, in cooperation with European partners:
i) Natural and Water Resources Service; and
ii) A Marine and Coastal Service
These two services will have different components, which cover several themes. Each theme relates to specific areas, such as Surface Water Monitoring; Groundwater Knowledge Consolidation; Sub-Tropical and Tropical Lands Seasonal Monitoring; Monitoring and Forecasting of Physical and Biological Oceanography Variables, etc. The issues related to each theme will be addressed by one or more applications. The application may be based on the existing MESA Services or developed on the basis of existing technology in response to the Action Plan.
3.1. Natural and Water Resources Service
This Service has 2 Components that address the combination of two thematic areas, namely, (a) Long-Term Management of Natural Resources, and (b) Water Resources Management.
3.2. Marine and Coastal Service
The Service is entirely devoted to the Marine & Coastal thematic priority. It has 4 components: Monitoring and Forecasting of Oceanography Variables, Coastal Area Monitoring, Ship Traffic and Pollution Monitoring, and Marine Weather Forecast. Aware of the need to effectively manage Marine and Coastal areas in Africa, the 22nd Ordinary Session of African Union Heads of State and Government adopted the continent’s Integrated Maritime Strategy (2050 AIM-Strategy) and its Plan of Action for Implementation. The Decision adopting the strategy retained the 2015-2025 decade as the "Decade of African Seas and Oceans”, and the date of 25 July as the African Day of Seas and Oceans.
3.3. Geographical Coverage of the Programme
GMES & Africa covers the entire African continent, unlike its predecessors such as MESA, which focused on Sub-Saharan Africa, excluding the Northern Africa region. This arrangement will facilitate the ‘continentalization’ of GMES & Africa Services, thereby enabling the equal distribution of resources and strengthening of EO capacity and collaboration across the entire continent.
The objectives of the Action are built on the overall GMES and Africa objectives for a long-term EU-Africa cooperation on space science and technology, to enable the two continents to jointly solve and address global challenges and promote sustainable development under the Copernicus programme. These objectives include:
i) Promoting the development in Africa of local capacities, institutional, human and technical resources for access to and exploitation of EO-based services on operational basis for sustainable development;
ii) Supporting the implementation of the African Space Policy and Strategy, in particular on Earth Observation;
iii) Providing decision-makers with information and tools needed for the implementation of sustainable environmental policies at the continental, regional and national levels through their Regional Economic Communities and Implementation Centers (RICs); and
iv) Maintaining, improving and sustaining access to EO data.
3.5. Outputs and Activities
Five outputs/results areas and activities to accomplish are proposed for the entire chain for a successful implementation of the programme to ensure timely availability of data, allows for efficient processing and analysis, packages the information in formats palatable for the users, and puts in place seamless communication mechanisms to ensure that information is channeled to policy makers and end users. These outputs further form the baseline for Evaluating and Monitoring the programme:
i. Ensuring that access to EO data is maintained, improved and sustained;
ii. Strengthening data access and sharing practices and policies in promoting intra-African collaborative actions;
iii. Ascertaining that the Natural and Water Resources Service adequately informs policy makers and end users;
iv. Ensuring that regional and national capacities for African public institutions and private sector are enhanced to generate and apply EO-based information for Natural and Water Resources as well as Marine & Coastal applications; and
v. Ensuring that adequate awareness and outreach activities are undertaken to better engage policy makers, administrators, entrepreneurs, scientists and civil society at all levels in using EO and geospatial data and information.
The implementation strategy, called the Action, is one of the three contracts concluded by EC to facilitate delivery of the 2 Services. Of the total funding for the Action, 17 Million Euro will be purposely reserved for grants through a Call for Proposals to finance the operations of the Regional Implementation Centers (RICs) in the execution of the activities outlined under the Action. An earlier exercise of a Call for Concept Notes to get an idea of the configuration of consortia that will be competitively applying for the Grants revealed that all the applications under the 2 Services were selected by at least one consortium; except for one: “Surveillance, Monitoring and Assessment of Environmental Impacts of Mining activities.” The AUC will use its grants procedures to achieve the objectives of the programme, ensuring that funds are spent in a transparent, efficient and fair manner. Thus, the bulk of the implementation work will be done by consortia of regional institutions led by the RICs that will apply for the grants. Each of the five regions of the continent will have at least one RIC to coordinate technical execution of the Action.
On the other hand, the capacity development component will be implemented through a procurement process to be overseen by the AUC. Training and capacity development will be carried out through the Pan African University.