African entrepreneurs to design Weather Stations

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Michel Jarraud, Secretary General of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) said during a UN Climate Change conference that “Weather monitoring systems in Africa are deteriorating and require improvement if we were to meet the challenges of climate change”.

Africa which covers a fifth of the total land area of the world has the worse climate observation systems compared to the other continents and they are in deplorable state. Sadly, the global climate observing system which is a part of the international data-sharing network is not functional well since 1 in 4 weather stations in East and Southern Africa are not working and most are not functioning well at all.

It is no surprise, that the density of the continent’s weather stations is 8 times lower than the minimum recommended level set by the WMO (1 per 26,000 square kilometres). This brings to the fore an urgent need to find a solutions to this situation since Africa will be most affected by climate change but is least prepared.

The Delft University in the Netherlands in collaboration with Africa Gathering is helping design a network of affordable weather stations in Africa through the Trans-African Hydro-Metrological Observatory (TAHMO) initiative.
The initiative aims to design, build and operate 20,000 measurement stations in Africa by using mass-produced consumer electronics and the extensive mobile phone coverage in Africa. In an interview with DW, Professor Nick van de Giesen, an engineer at Delft University of Technology and initiator of the project noted “The number of measurement stations in Africa are just very, very limited.”

From a technical point of view this is feasible and the value to be produced by this network will be high and the benefits immense.
Learning from past experiences and for this network to be successful, financial sustainability is key, likewise adapting the technology to local needs, and the inclusion of local design and technologies.  “You know, Africa is huge. “I’ve spent a lot of time there, you cannot compare Lesotho with Chad – these are just completely different environments,” he said. “So we need this large network of people on the ground who are willing to think about this, work with us, test things, etc.” In line with this the initiative is involving African students in a competition to design cost effective systems. Thus the programme plans to achieve through brainstorming sessions and a contest where entrepreneurs, innovators, creators and technology enthusiasts will be actively invited to share their ideas during two separate events to be held in Ghana and Senegal to answer the following questions:

  1. What is a good model to establish and operate a network of 20,000 stations? What would be an appropriate pricing scheme for station’s owners and caretakers to provide security, minimal maintenance and to ensure good data delivery?
  2. What data based information from the stations would be valuable and can be sold?

The event in Ghana is scheduled for Saturday, July 13th in Accra at the Ghana-India Kofi Annan Centre of Excellence in ICT (KACE-AITI) and in Senegal on Monday, July 15th at the Ndiambour Hotel.

Who should attend?

Entrepreneurs, Academia, techies, developers, weather management people etc. to come and share ideas in order to come up with business models.

Competition ends: August 2013

Prize: A prize of 5000 Euros will be offered to the Best Business Model

Competition link: http://www.africagathering.org/competition

 

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