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Why Digital Earth Africa?


Africa is a continent with a rich and diverse environment that faces many challenges such as ready access to drinking water, rapid urban development, active deforestation and food insecurity. Our understanding of these challenges connects directly to how well we understand its natural resources, and the human and climate impact on them.

The challenge: translating data to development

For decades Africa’s land surface and coastline has been continually imaged by satellites, recording a wide range of information about land and water resources. These images are a rich source of information, but they are difficult to acquire, scale up or down, and compute and analyse – their high-quality means managing with many petabytes of data. In short, while this data is freely available, it is very difficult to consume and translate into useful information for decision-making. Digital Earth Africa (DE Africa) is an operational platform to translate these data into decision-ready information.

Fom sustainably managing the environment and mitigating climate change, to developing resources and unleashing agricultural potential, Africa must overcome a number of challenges to meet the needs of its fast growing population. This is all in a time of increased climate variability and resilience challenges. 

DE Africa will support all of Africa to drive progress towards the national development priorities and global challenges such as the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. In particular, it will be directly relevant to Goals 2 (zero hunger), 6 (clean water and sanitation), 9 (industry, innovation and Infrastructure), 11 (sustainable cities and communities), 13 (climate action), 14 (life below water) and 15 (life on land).

DE Africa also contributes directly to enabling Earth observations (EO) in Africa that work towards the African Union’s Agenda 2063 framework. By enabling EO capabilities, we will help to address Goal 1 (A high standard of living, quality of life, and wellbeing for all citizens), Goal 5 (Modern agriculture for increased productivity and production), Goal 6 (Blue/ocean economy for accelerated economic growth), and Goal 7 (Environmentally sustainable and climate resilient economies and communities).

The solution: a data cube for all of Africa

While data and technology being made available by a number of companies and organizations around the world are trying to address these issues, we offer an operational data infrastructure making current and historical, analysis-ready satellite data freely available and openly accessible for the entire continent. This further enables turning raw data into decision-ready products to inform policy and drive action. 

DE Africa is made possible by Australian innovation using the Open Data Cube that is internationally recognised as a game-changer for the use of satellite information to address sustainable development challenges.

We provide a unique platform that democratizes the capacity to process and analyse satellite data. It tracks changes across Africa in unprecedented detail, and will provide data on a vast number of issues, including soil and coastal erosion, agriculture, forest and desert development, water quality, and changes to human settlements. It will also provide an integrating functionality to ensure it complements other existing data

The impact: insight for action

DE Africa will improve our understanding of Africa’s changing landscape, providing much needed insights, knowledge and analysis for more informed, strategic and inclusive decision making across the continent. This information will benefit policy makers and public officials, enabling them to make better decisions, and will increase commercial efficiency and economic growth for businesses and entrepreneurs across the continent.

For more information on the assessed benefits of DE Africa, read the Phase I Summary report.