Enabling climate resilient Africa with weather intelligence

By admin


Many countries in Africa are vulnerable to the impacts of extreme weather events because of their limited ability to cope and adapt to those events. According to a report published by the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO).

Weather, climate and water hazards accounted for 50 percent of all disasters, with almost 91 percent of these deaths occurring in developing countries. Four out of the top ten disasters between 1970 and 2019, based on reported deaths, were in Africa. Africa accounted for 15 per of weather-, climate- and water-related disasters, 35% of associated deaths and 1% of economic losses reported globally.

Although the African continent has contributed the least to global warming, in terms of greenhouse gas emissions, several regions are facing the worst effect of climate change.

For instance, earlier this year, an unprecedented famine occurred in Madagascar, the first climate-triggered famine known to our planet, triggered by locusts and severe drought. In Mozambique, over 104,000 people continue to live in resettlement sites and accommodation centres due to the three cyclones (Idai; Kenneth; and Eloise) that have plagued the same area of the country over the past two years.

According to the WMO report, even though the recorded deaths decreased almost threefold during the past 50 years, severe gaps in weather observing networks across Africa highlight the continent’s vulnerabilities.

For Africa to reduce the risk and loss due to extreme weather events, the continent must embrace and invest in technologies that support climate adaptation, which involves accurate and timely weather forecasts to any individual, business, or government. Reducing the physical and financial risks is critical as weather extremes are predicted to occur with both increasing frequency and severity.

While weather forecasting provides predictions in the form of data (temperature, cloud cover, rain, wind speed etc.), weather intelligence helps to understand the true impact of the weather on the daily activities of individuals, businesses and government, making weather forecasting more actionable to make informed decisions towards climate action. However, accurate weather intelligence is far and in between – with 85% of the continent unable to access this data needed for a reliable weather forecast.

Weather Intelligence from Space

Radar sensors are a crucial component for weather forecasting in the short and medium term as they allow the detection of rain and cloud droplets as well as identify the size, shape, orientation, or composition of the droplet. Some radar satellites such as the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) and the Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) launched and operated by public institutions such as NOAA, NASA and EUMETSAT, provide data that are used to power real-time [or near real-time] situational awareness, short-term nowcasts, medium-term forecasts, and climate studies.

However, their revisit rates are only every few days, and they cost hundreds of millions, if not billions of dollars. Further, over 5 billion people worldwide still live outside of radar coverage, and as a result, lack reliable weather forecasts.

To effectively bridge the data gap, terrestrial methods such as radar deployment would not be effective because of the lack of infrastructure required to achieve this, especially in remote regions and vast land areas in Africa, as well as the oceans.

Nevertheless, advancements in the miniaturisation of satellites, along with reduced costs of launching to space mean that a constellation of satellites equipped with radar sensors could play a critical role in improving global weather forecasting. At the forefront of this is Tomorrow.io, a global leader in weather intelligence solutions. Dubbed “Operation Tomorrow Space“, Tomorrow.io is launching a constellation of small satellites (500 kg) equipped with precipitation radars, enabling access to reliable weather information and bringing critical weather radar coverage to the entire world, especially the underserved regions.

According to Kathryn Sullivan, former NOAA Administrator, NASA Astronaut and an advisor to Tomorrow.io,“ A constellation of active precipitation radar satellites will, for the first time, provide radar data, and therefore reliable weather forecasts, to the 5 billion people worldwide who live outside of radar coverage. In particular, this data will enable a dramatic improvement in forecasts of precipitation, flooding and drought, phenomena that are so critical to smallholder farmers and the general population of Africa.”

Leveraging Weather Intelligence for Africa
Ever since Africa’s Agenda 2063 was declared in May 2013, the 50-year development trajectory for Africa has recognised the problem climate change presents to the continent’s development.

According to the FAO, about 54% of the African population is employed in the agricultural sector. Therefore, there is a constant need to stay abreast of the weather in real-time to allow the farmers access to observational data to mitigate climate risks, boost productivity and ultimately build resilience.

TomorrowNow.org, a non-profit spinoff of Tomorrow.io, focuses on ensuring weather intelligence is truly inclusive in reach and empowers communities most in need, leveraging its global weather intelligence capabilities. For instance,

TomorrowNow.org is working together with several partners in Africa to develop a climate action system aimed at delivering community-based, localised insights providing millions of farmers with the ability to be better prepared, make crop-saving decisions and directly benefit from desert locust infestations.

Moreover, weather intelligence tools can lead to reduced losses and increased productivity for industries in Africa. For instance, fleet management companies lose billions annually due to weather-related congestion.

Weather intelligence solutions can improve Estimated Time of Arrivals (ETAs), protect valuable assets, optimise route planning, and streamline communications between vehicles, which is also equally beneficial for the logistics and on-demand delivery sector.

In addition, the insurance industry, which suffers from a very low penetration rate in Africa, can also benefit from weather intelligence tools through which proactive alerts can be sent to mitigate risks for insured losses and manage claims post disasters.

As climate change brings about a potential socioeconomic crisis for Africa, especially for the most vulnerable who are forced to adapt to its consequences, a global weather intelligence solution could help turn this crisis into an opportunity enabling inclusive climate action.

Innovations in space technologies that will allow advancements in weather intelligence for Africa are critical in building climate resilience within the continent and provide ample possibilities to prevent losses and improve efficiency for businesses, thus leading to an overall sustainable development for the continent.

AIB submits interim report on Air Force plane crash in Kaduna

By Favour Nnabugwu
The Nigeria Accident Investigation Bureau, AIB, has submitted interim report on the accident involving a Nigerian Air Force (NAF) King Air -350 aircraft at the vicinity of Kaduna Civil Airport on 21 May 2021,  that killed the former  Chief of Army Staff to the Chief of the Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal Oladayo Amao .
Recall Air Marshal Amao  had directed that a joint investigative body consisting of experienced NAF safety officers and the Accident Investigative Bureau (AIB) be constituted to investigate the circumstances surrounding the air crash.
Speaking while submitting the report at NAF Headquarters in Abuja, the Commissioner and Chief Executive Officer of AIB, Engr Akin Olateru said the submission of the report is coming three months after the accident.
Engineer Olateru revealed that the  submitted report is organized into three sections namely; ” the information obtained in the course of the investigation; analysis of data collected in view of the Board’s Terms of Reference; and the conclusion, which covers the initial findings and immediate recommendations”.
” It should be noted that at this interim stage, a total of 27 initial findings and 8 immediate safety recommendations were made for the convening authority as well as other aviation related agencies for immediate implementation”.
” It is expected that the final report will contain the flight data recorder readout, the reviewed operator’s and service provider’s standard operating procedures as well as other detailed analysis”, the Commissioner said.
 While receiving the report, the  Chief of Air Staff, CAS, said the report is the main essence of activating the ‘joint investigative’ clause contained in the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed between the NAF and the AIB on 1 July, 2020.
 According to him, ” the successful collaboration is a clear indication of the potency of collaboration in aircraft accident investigation, which must be encouraged.”
 Air Marshal Amao also noted that ” such collaborative efforts make accident investigations more transparent and open. The outcome of the investigation is not necessarily aimed at punitive measures but essentially at generally improving safety in the aviation industry. “
The Chief Executive Officer of AIB, Engr Akin Olateru also used the occasion to reveal that the joint investigation with the NAF was its first direct involvement in military air crash investigation in Nigeria and second investigation outside its mandate having also assisted Sao Tome and Principe in the past.
He also stated that copies of the report, with the endorsement of the CAS, will also be submitted to the Hon. Minister of Aviation and Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) to ensure that the recommendations addressed to aviation agencies are implemented.
The Commissioner also stated that although the accident involved a military aircraft and crew, it happened at a civil airport adding that the involvement of AIB in the investigation by the Nigerian Air Force would help in closing the gaps on the civil aviation