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11 Representatives of the 13 GMES and Africa Project consortia members of the  are meeting in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The GMES and Africa Program at the African Union Commission invited the communicators of the 13 consortia of the program to a capacity building workshop. The workshop, started on March 9, 2020  in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and will end on Thursday March 12, 2020. 

“Communication is the key, the main pillar for the success of the GMES and Africa Program. It is not satellite or technological data, it is not the services you provide. You can provide the services, but if the decision makers don't know what you produce, if the users do not know the products exist, whatever the quality of the service, it won't be used or useful," Said Dr. Tidiane Ouattara, Coordinator of the GMES and Africa Program.

Dr. Ouattara, emphasized that communication, outreach and awareness-raising form part of the strategic pillars and indicative outputs of the GMES and Africa programme. The capacity building session led by Mr. Stephane Ourevitch, Director General of Space Tech. "As a specialist in space science, I will share my experience as Communication Manager at Copernicus. Mr. Ourevitch said he was conducting the training in memorium of the late Erick Khamala who was a dear friend and who believed in the use of Earth Observation for the development of Africa. "It is because of the friendship and commitment that Erick had for Africa and use of Earth Observation that encouraged me to offer my services to all of you for free." 

Through traditional and social media tools and platforms, as well as other relevant techniques of advocacy, dedicated outreach and engagement, GMES and Africa is designed to provide information to policymakers, scientists, businesses and the public on a real time basis, whilst promoting intra-African collaboration and driving regional and national advocacy. This will inspire and mobilize African stakeholders, and raise public awareness on the critical role of Earth Observation in sustainable development.  

Mr. Adiatou Fatty Communications Officer, GMES and AfricaThe African Union Commission said the training intended to strengthen the communications output and delivery of GMES and Africa by supporting the 13 consortia in terms of their communications capacity, effectiveness and impact. The workshop sought to provide training for communications functionaries of consortia on how to deploy communications in Earth Observation for integrated decision making. It was also intended to expose consortia communications functionaries to strategic tools and techniques for the enhancement of communications delivery within their regions and share best practice ideas and experience on packaging, documenting and transmitting the results attained by consortia and provide a platform to discuss the harmonization of communications activities across various consortia and operational levels of GMES and Africa. 

As the first phase of this program draws to a close, this workshop reinforces awareness, mobilization, engagement and decision-making techniques for the main targets of this program at regional and continental level.

The African Union Commission through this training wants to improve the quality of communication products, generate more impact in the dissemination of these and ensure an effective and efficient evaluation of different communication activities. It is also a question for the communicators to join their efforts in order to bring a strong message of awareness in order to create a regional commitment of the different governments. 

Eleven consortia responded to this workshop, in particular; OSS, ICPAC, RCMRD, NARSS, CICOS, CSSTE, MOI, CSIR, SASSCAL, UG and AGEOS. This workshop was an excellent platform for communicators to share their different experiences, successes and challenges and to define new forms of collaboration to improve the impact of their activities. It was expected that after the training, there will be increased capacity of consortia in deploying communications to raise awareness, and embark on regional outreach; improved skills of consortia communications staff in identifying and utilizing most effective mechanisms and tools for EO communications towards promoting integrated decision making; strengthened capacity of consortia to chronicle and popularize the impact made by GMES and Africa at the grassroots level; greater harmony and synchronization between the communications platforms, approaches and practices of consortia and integrated recommendations for group practice. 

On the final day, the Communications Experts presented the GMES and Africa Successes to Mr. Pietro Nardi Program Manager at European Commission ((EEAS-ADDIS-ABABA), Ethiopia and Ms. Iride Boffardi, Communications Team Leader, Delegation of the European Union to the African Union, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Communications Experts received a certificate on the GMES and Africa Communications on Earth Observation Course conducted at African Union Headquarters, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.     

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