CBAS Launches The €2.4 Million Marcnowa Project Under GMES And The Africa Programme

The Marine and Coastal Areas Management in North and West Africa (MarCNoWA) Project was launched on July 6, 2022 ,at the Labadi Beach Hotel in Accra, Ghana, and was attended by more than seventy-five African experts in natural resources and marine and coastal areas management. Experts from the Global Monitoring For Environment and Security (GMES & Africa ) consortium of institutions, the African Union Commission, regional bodies involved in fisheries and environmental management, Earth Observation practitioners from the private sector, the partner institutions, and the national focal points of beneficiary institutions were present at the launch.

Professor Boateng Onwona-Agyeman, Provost of the College of Basic and Applied Sciences (CBAS) at the University of Ghana and Director of the project, urged the GMES & Africa community to consolidate their gains from the first implementation phase of the programme and work towards a successful second phase during the opening ceremony. He urged participants to develop concrete actions to drive service delivery and yield results after the program.

Provost of CBAS, University of Ghana, Professor Boateng Onwona-Agyeman

During the initial phase of the GMES and Africa initiative, the University of Ghana agreed to lead the GMES and Africa maritime consortium, which offered services to 12 coastal nations (Benin, Cape Verde, Cote d'Ivoire, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea Bissau, Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, and Togo). This is the continuation of the University of Ghana-led Monitoring for Environment and Security in Africa (MESA) initiative from 2014 to 2017.

The scope of the MarCNoWA project has been expanded to 18 countries, with the addition of six North African nations (Mauritania, Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria, Libya, and Egypt). The extension of the coverage also brings the added benefit of additional expertise from North African partners and the addition of an oil spill monitoring service to the five existing services (generation of potential fishing zones charts overlaid with fishing vessel traffic; monitoring and forecasting of oceanographic variables; forecast and dissemination of ocean weather; monitoring of coastal vulnerability; and ecosystem/habitat mapping) currently being provided.

Prof. Onwona-Agyeman acknowledged, on behalf of the Senior Management of the University, the tremendous support of the European Commission and the African Union Commission in funding the MESA and GMES and Africa programmes. The project will be carried out until December 2025 at the cost of 2.4 million Euros.

Group Picture of Participants at the launch of MarCNoWA

Dr. Kwame Adu Agyekum, the project coordinator for the MarCNoWA, emphasised the essential role of the AUC in coordinating the successful implementation of these continental programs and reassured the African community that the University of Ghana will exceed expectations. In addition, he urged all consortium members and project stakeholders to carry out the project's activities successfully.

Dr Kwame Adu Agyekum, MarCNoWA Project Coordinator

The launch took place at the culmination of the African Union's continental workshop on marine and coastal areas, which focused on the cross-fertilisation of practices and the strategic pooling and deploying of resources by consortiums to handle specialised services. Marine and Coastal Areas are the specialities of two GMES & Africa consortiums: the University of Ghana and the CSIR of South Africa. GMES and Africa are primarily concerned with promoting data sharing between Africans and African institutions. The three-day workshop addressed questions regarding marine and maritime challenges such as ship trafficking, oil spill monitoring, and early warning systems. The experts examined measures to ensure that the services in these areas are user-driven and financially and technically sustainable.

Dr Tidiane Ouattara, Coordinator of the GMES & Africa Programme, described coastal and marine areas as essential for Africa's sustainable development. Dr Ouattara stated, “Our coastal areas and resources are under threat, and the task for us in this community is to utilise space science and technology to address these challenges." He reminded the attendees that the workshop's purpose is to build a clear road map for joint implementation efforts through collaborative brainstorming on better resource mobilisation and utilisation.

Dr Tidiane Ouattara, Coordinator of the GMES and Africa, Africa Union Commission

The event was attended by representatives of the University community, including Deans, Heads of Departments, Directors of Centers or Institutes, and Lectures. Other significant national stakeholders included the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Fisheries Commission, the Ghana Navy, the Canoe and Fishing Gear Owners Association of Ghana (CaFGOAG), the corporate sector, and the media.