Vice President Dr Mahamudu Bawumia has announced that the Ghana Space Agency will be operationalised in 2023 as part of efforts to harness the power of earth observations to support planning and decision-making in weather forecasting as well as monitoring and response to natural disasters.
He disclosed that Cabinet had approved the Ghana Space Policy and Implementation Plan that will enable the full operationalisation of the national Space Agency.
Speaking at the Opening session of the Group on Earth Observations (GEO) week on Wednesday morning in Accra, Dr Bawumia said the country was working through bilateral and multilateral partnerships to "boost resource efficiency, establish a circular economy, mitigate, and adapt to climate change, mitigate disaster risks and halt biodiversity loss".
"We are also actively pursuing improved ways to harness the power of earth observations to support planning and decision-making in weather forecasting, measuring land-use change (such as deforestation), monitoring coastlines, and monitoring and responding to disasters, including fires, floods, and earthquakes," Dr Bawumia said.
"On this note, we are happy to inform you that Cabinet has approved the Ghana Space Policy and Implementation Plan that will enable the full operationalization of the Ghana Space Agency next year. We extend an invitation to you all to partner with us as we embark on this exciting journey".
The Vice President added that although Ghana had made significant progress in poverty reduction with over two million citizens no longer living in poverty, the country could leverage Earth Observation to solve challenges that had arisen as a result.
Dr Bawumia attributed the decline in poverty to widened access to education, jobs, higher agricultural production, and rapid urbanization.
However, he warned that the rapid urban growth was putting pressure on Ghanaian cities, which were growing comparatively faster than larger ones contributing to the unplanned spatial expansion of big cities which were threatening economic efficiency, and increasing social and environmental costs for urban commuting.
"Existing efforts to tackle these challenges will require accurate, global, and timely data and information to support sustainable development in the country. Earth observation systems could easily be used to track, and in some instances minimise the negative impact of these environmental problems," he said.
Consequently, he said Ghana was applying the products of the Digital Earth Africa program to monitor landscape changes because of illegal mining activities.
"Developing an interoperable data ecosystem that combines Earth observations data with other data, including socioeconomic data, citizen data, and statistical data, among others would be more meaningful and impactful.
"Our development priorities are focused on economic transformation through value-addition to create jobs, reduce poverty, and enhance social inclusion while sustaining the integrity of our environment. Our medium and long-term development plans are underpinned by the “Ghana Beyond Aid” vision to change the mindsets of our citizens towards an increased reliance on internal resources plus private sector investment to lead economic transformation.
"The application of digital technologies is fundamental to the achievement of the "Ghana Beyond Aid" agenda, with emphasis on the maximisation of resources, investments in agriculture, improved health, and industrialisation, enhancing critical skills and education and promoting renewable energy and energy efficiency".
Dr Bawumia said the government was finalising a new Digital Economy Policy and a Digital Transformation Blueprint to position Ghana as the leader in ICT innovation in Sub-Saharan Africa.
"The ongoing Ghana Digital Acceleration Project is expected to increase access to mobile internet and broadband services by encouraging private sector investment in last-mile connectivity in underserved and rural areas, with particular attention to women, persons with disabilities and the youth," he said.