EGNOS for Africa: EU and AU join forces

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07 October 2010

The projected benefits of EGNOS for regional airports on the African continent are numerous, including safer landings, increased efficiency, reliable services for passengers and better access to remote regions with less well equipped airports. EGNOS’ coverage already extends into parts of North Africa and the Middle East, with further expansion into the rest of the continent expected to come up during the third EU-Africa Summit, when heads of state and government meet in Tripoli, Libya, at the end of November 2010

"The EC and AUC are currently drafting a joint 'detailed concept paper' that will guide decision-makers as they consider the development of important EGNOS services for the African continent," explained Michel Bosco, Deputy Head of Unit in charge of satellite navigation international relations at the European Commission, Directorate for Industry and Entrepreneurship. Speaking at the second EGNOS and Africa Stakeholders' Workshop on 14 September in Brussels, he said, "We need to gather political support now. The EU-Africa Summit in November will be a key moment for EGNOS in Africa."

Representing the African Union Commission, David Kajange, Head of the Transport and Tourism Division, Department of Infrastructure and Energy, said, "The 2008 Lisbon Declaration and subsequent Action Plan and Joint Strategy have Europe and Africa working together as equal partners. The dialogue that has been established is an important one, and we would like to see that process accelerated, including our discussions on the final disposition of the EGNOS programme in Africa."

EU and AU officials meet with potential users at second EGNOS and Africa Stakeholders' Workshop © Peter GutierrezEU and AU officials meet with potential users at second EGNOS and Africa Stakeholders' Workshop © Peter Gutierrez

Clear answers on costs and benefits

While the benefits of EGNOS are clear for many, some still have questions about the costs. Tamrat Tewodros of the African Airlines Association (AFRAA) expressed his organisation's concerns. "Many of our African airlines are struggling simply to survive. We have very important safety issues that need to be addressed as a first priority. We are concerned that while EGNOS services will benefit many sectors, including road transport, agriculture and the like, the costs of building this new system will fall mainly on our sector."

Similar concerns were expressed by Fidelis Onyeyiri of the African Civil Aviation Commission (AFCAC) and Ernest Ilang'Ikwa of the Economic Community of Central African States (ECAAS) These were addressed directly by Nina Costa of NDConsult, who presented a highly anticipated cost-benefit analysis, showing the costs for the African continent amounting to €359 million while the benefits would reach €1.7 billion over time.

Stefano Scarda of the European Commission said, "The fact is that these costs would be covered under a joint EU-AU co-operative framework involving a variety of donors. We are talking about increased safety and important economic advantages, not about extra costs that will impact the African aviation industry. SBAS is a technology that delivers an economically efficient solution to the whole African aviation community, both large and small players, to comply with evolving standard requirements imposed at international level by ICAO."

Full partners

The AUC's Adiron Alberto said, "There can be no u-turn for GNSS. The adoption of SBAS in Africa is critical. We need international co-operation, we need a global consensus, with Africa as a full partner, and we need to address the concerns of African aviation experts."

Ladislaus Matindi of the EAC added another positive note, expressing his organisation's satisfaction with the approach now being taken. "We are very glad to see the EU pushing for the full involvement of African users. EGNOS is not something that is being imposed upon us by the European Union. This is a joint collaborative effort that we believe will bring real benefits."

More information:

Joint Statement of Vice President Tajani, European Commission and Commissioner Ezin, African Union Commission (.pdf)

Further progress in EU–Africa cooperation in Space (press release)

Updated: Sep 03, 2014