European and African Union Commission on Space and Africa

EU Following the High Level Political Meeting on Space and Africa Vice President Tajani, European Commission, and Commissioner Ezin, African Union Commission, issued the following statement:

A future African Space Agency

The participants took good note of the decision of the African Union Communications Ministers meeting in Abuja on 7 August 2010, to task the African Union Commission to carry out a feasibility study on an African Space Agency. The establishment of an African Space Agency would be a positive development, indicating a willingness of African nations to speak with one voice for the benefit of the whole continent. An African Space Agency could provide significant added value by leading and coordinating African activities in space and contributing to training and capacity building. Such an agency could, at least in its initial phase, focus on practical areas capable of producing benefits for the African citizen such as telecommunications and use of earth observation data to monitor weather, environment and climate change. The European Commission, the European Space Agency and EUMETSAT indicated their readiness to offer the benefit of their expertise and experience to assist the AU Commission in this task. The possibility will be explored with ESA, EUMETSAT and other interested parties such as EU Member States how best to support the setting up of an African Space Agency, including the provision of training. The European Commission will explore possible funding for this initiative.

The Space Sciences Institute of the Pan African University

The future establishment of the Space Science Institute of the Pan African University will be a landmark in promoting the importance of and raising the profile of space sciences in Africa. The European Commission has developed significant networks for possible partnering in research programmes and will explore how these can be made available for the benefit of the Space Sciences Institute. The European Commission has experience in setting up and running the European Institute for Innovation and Technology – and is willing to offer the benefit of its experience and know-how. The European Commission will explore possible funding options to assist in the setting up of the Space Sciences Institute of the PAU. The European Space Agency and EUMETSAT indicated their willingness to explore the scope for contributing with their assets and expertise to the future Space Science Institute of the Pan African University. The European Commission will explore with certain Member States whether they may be willing to undertake a strategic or other partnership with the Space Sciences Institute leading to a possible lead thematic partnership.

EU-Africa cooperation in earth observation data applications

The progress made on the GMES and Africa initiative through the extensive exchange of contacts between the two continents was acknowledged. The ongoing effort to prepare a high-level strategic document to guide the implementation phase, was welcomed. It was recognised that extensive work has been done in the preparation of a detailed thematic action plan, the finalisation of which is urged by spring 2011. This will facilitate the allocation of EU contributing funding for 2011 onwards, the definition of the EU Financial Perspectives 2014-20 as well as contributions from other sources and the implementation in Africa of priority applications. At the same time it was agreed that it is important to ensure participation of all interested parties in Africa and Europe, including the Member States of both continents, the African Regional Economic Communities, the ACP Secretariat, the specialised African and European agencies and institutions, and relevant services in the African Union and European Commissions.

In response to this progress, EUMETSAT and ESA indicated their readiness to consider additional support for new projects emerging from the GMES and Africa initiative.

EU – Africa cooperation in satellite navigation

The participants recognise the great socio-economic value of satellite navigation and positioning for African citizens, and reaffirm the mutual interest in pursuing cooperation in this domain. The fundamental role of all the parties engaged in the initiative, including the African Union Commission, the European Commission and the European Space Agency, is acknowledged. The African Union Commission and the European Commission express the need to expedite the implementation of a preliminary phase of capacity building in the area of satellite navigation, which would support the system infrastructure deployment to be implemented under the Africa-EU 3rd Partnership on Trade, Regional Integration and Infrastructure.

EU – Africa cooperation in AFREF

The need for Africa to establish a Geodetic Reference Frame was acknowledged and the two Commissions will work together to define a suitable implementation plan for the set-up of African Geodetic Reference Frame (AFREF) and analyse its synergies with satellite navigation.

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