During the two previous Tours in 2012, the Chinese Meteorological Administration had expressed interest in developing special projects for African national meteorological and hydrological services through the China Ministry of Commerce. Therefore, in advance of this Tour, CMA conducted, through the Chinese embassies in selected African countries, a preliminary needs assessment as to whether the governments of the participants would be prepared to accept support towards developing meteorological infrastructure and associated human resources. There was also a parallel consultation with WMO on the geographic spread and envisaged extent of the project. Based on a request from CMA, WMO developed a background information note in advance to the Tour, highlighting the infrastructure and human needs, requirements and gaps to be addressed in the proposed countries.
The Tour covered five specific areas: observation, information networks and data processing systems, forecasting, public weather services and technical training. It kicked off with discussions on the planned collaboration between China and African countries. Mr Cai Yongfu, Commercial Counsellor, Ministry of Commerce, and Dr Zheng Guoguang, Permanent Representative of China with WMO and Administrator of CMA, highlighted the objectives and expected activities of the programme. Mr Cai confirmed the preparedness of the Ministry of Commerce to work with CMA in developing a comprehensive programme for African countries. An introduction to the meteorological service by Mr. Shen Xiaonong, Deputy Administrator of CMA, was followed by presentations of each country and technical lectures by CMA experts.
Participants were invited to visit some national centres at CMA headquarter as well as the Beijing Meteorological Service. At the Changping Meteorological Office (a county-level office of Beijing Meteorological Service), the rural meteorological service caught the interest of the participants.
It is expected that CMA, through the Huangyun Corporation, would act as Programme Sub-Contractor once agreements are signed between the African and Chinese governments. The hope is that this activity will open the gateway to more resources from the Ministry of Commerce. In the meantime, the bilateral cooperation agreements are expected to be signed by the associated African governments and China by the first quarter of 2014.