Digital transformation will improve early warnings in Africa

Digital transformation will improve early warnings in Africa



13 February 2023

Digital technologies could help hydrometeorological services in Africa to deliver services and early warnings more effectively and efficiently to user communities. The World Meteorological Organization is therefore holding a meeting of experts in weather, climate and water services to try to speed the digital transformation.

The Regional Association for Africa conference, organized in collaboration with the Ethiopian Meteorological Institute, takes place this week in Addis Ababa.

“The frequency and intensity of hazards is significant in Africa and the impacts are putting pressure on socioeconomic sectors. The government of Ethiopia, in partnership with the Ethiopian Meteorological Institute (EMI), has established a modernized network for collecting and interpreting meteorological data for early warning services to improve lives and livelihoods,” said Ethiopian State Minister for Water and Energy, H.E. Dr Abraha Adugna.

Regional Association for Africa meeting Jan 2023

Africa is highly vulnerable to impacts of climate change and extreme weather. The Greater Horn of Africa is gripped by extreme and prolonged drought, which has destroyed crops, killed livestock and plunged millions into acute food insecurity. Tropical cyclones and deadly floods have also caused many casualties and severe socio-economic losses in countries ranging from Madagascar to Nigeria to South Africa in the past year.

But many people in Africa have no way of knowing that bad weather is heading their way. The digital transformation of the NMHSs will facilitate provision and access to severe weather warnings and alerts.

The President of the Regional Association for Africa, Daouda Konate, said: ‘’It is essential to use innovative solutions to implement initiatives of Early Warning systems in Africa. Without digital transformation, our meteorological services cannot provide adequate early warnings to our people. We must contribute to policies for the implementation of early warnings for Africa," he said.

One-third of the world’s people, mainly in the least developed countries and small island developing states, are still not covered by early warning systems. In Africa, 60% of people lack coverage. Africa is therefore one of the top priorities to achieve Early Warnings for All in the next five years.

“Digital transformation of the meteorological services in Africa will hasten data transmission speed and increase the ability to create products and services for real-time exchange of information, critical for forecasting and warnings ofhydrometeorological hazards,” said WMO Secretary-General Prof. Petteri Taalas.

The objectives of the regional conference are:

  • To effectively and efficiently use digital technologies to deliver through the full value chain of hydrometeorological services to last mile user communities
  • To build the requisite knowledge skills to take up digital technologies in hydrometeorological services; To enhance partnerships on infrastructure as well as service delivery capacities in National Meteorological and Hydrological Services (NMHSs); and
  • To develop a Regional Association I (Africa) Strategy for digital transformation for the period 2024–2027.

The African Union has developed its digital transformation strategy for Africa (2020-2030) with the vision to have an integrated and inclusive digital society and economy in Africa.

The use of modern digital technology has unexploited potential for the value chain of climate services, including in fields such as data collection, co-design, dissemination, and personalization of services. Much of the technologies to develop these areas are not yet fully utilized, and most of the reported progress is on data production rather than service development and delivery. Digital solutions hold the key to ensuring that climate services can increase resilience in Africa.

To enhance last-mile communication, mobile telephone connectivity is essential. International Telecommunication Union (ITU) data shows that 3G and 4G broadband coverage in Africa lags behind many other regions.

The regional conference will be followed by a full session of Regional Association I (Africa), including a high-level segment with the participation of Ministers responsible for Meteorology in Africa.


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