Working together to coordinate earth observations for maximum impact

South Africa, like many other nations, places great importance on the benefits attainable from Earth observations applications to advance societal, economical, and environmental progress to support the achievement of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and to address local challenges.


Dr Mmboneni Muofhe

The Group on Earth Observations (GEO) Week 2021 took place from 22-26 November 2021, following the AfriGEO Symposium held from 17 to 19 November 2021, a regional initiative that aims to co-ordinate Africa ‘s involvement in GEO for the maximum benefit of Africa, to the Earth Observations services and products.

GEO convened earth observation’s role players representing national governments and international organisations from across the globe GEO is “a global partnership of governments and international organisations” that broadly envisions “a future wherein decisions and actions for the benefit of humankind are informed by coordinated, comprehensive and sustained Earth observations”.

South Africa participated in the GEO week 2021 under the leadership of the South African Department of Science and Innovation (DSI), with the support of the South African National Space Agency (SANSA) – the responsible entity for the implementation of South Africa’s national Space Programme and the National Earth Observations and Space Secretariat (NEOSS), an initiative of the DSI that is managed and hosted by the CSIR.

As the Co-Chair of GEO, the Deputy Director-General, Dr Mmboneni Muofhe, participated in the Executive Committee, a structure that oversees GEO activities and is responsible to guide the GEO Secretariat and outline priorities and actions for implementation by GEO and the community. In his opening remarks, during the GEO plenary session, Dr Muofhe emphasized the important role played by GEO in strengthening Regional GEOs in coordinating Earth Observations activities, particularly the AfriGEO initiative which facilitates collaborations and synergies for EO based initiatives in Africa. He further acknowledged the appointment of SANSA as the project management office for Digital Earth in Africa, a dedicated platform for accessing and analyzing satellite imagery specific to the continent of Africa.

South Africa heavily relies on data and information about the Earth, whether collected by satellites, air-bone (aircraft and drones) earth observing systems and in-situ measurements or ground-based monitoring stations. This is critical to providing us with a good understanding of the conditions and changes of the land, water, and the environment, as well as for managing our natural resources, monitoring the weather, and mapping disasters. Applications from EO are now commonly used across most spheres of government, research and academic institutions, private sector, and the society, in a range of sectors.

EO continues to be of significance to unlock commensurate opportunities and innovations in the advent of the Fourth Industrial Revolution and Artificial Intelligence; and most importantly influence the drive from linear economy towards a circular economy for the benefit of humankind. It is along with this understanding that the DSI, to strengthen coordination efforts, has resuscitated NEOSS, a platform to co-ordinate and engage end-users of Earth Observations data products and services, to ensure that future satellite design, EO capabilities and applications that serve the broader scientific, user community and society at large.

For more information please contact, Lulu Makapela, NEOSS at