Africa-Press – Rwanda. Rwanda could soon host a publicly accessible data centre on weather, climate, air pollution and water resources to serve the needs of governmental, private sectors and education.
Dr. Didier Ntwali, the Division Manager of Earth and Space Science at the Rwanda Space Agency (RSA), confirmed the development to The New Times in an exclusive interview.
The announcement comes months after RSA took over Rwanda Climate Observatory project, which was previously under the Ministry of Education and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).
The agreement, he said, was for MIT to source funds to purchase the instruments while Rwanda provided staff and other facilities to host the climate observatory.
Also part of the agreement was the University of Rwanda-MIT educational collaboration in exchanging curricula and capabilities in job-creating especially in climate areas.
Since its inception, the observatory currently stationed at Mt. Mugogo collects atmospheric observations to contribute to meteorological forecasting and monitor climatic conditions, as well as build local scientific and engineering capacity.
“The observatory is very important given the current paucity of meteorological measurements and the complete lack of high-frequency greenhouse gasses (GHG) measurements anywhere in Africa and above all in equatorial Africa,” he said in an emailed response.
He added: “Given the difficulty of accessing mount Karisimbi, the Government of Rwanda agreed to build a cable car that would facilitate access to Mount Karisimbi, while an interim station at Mount Mugogo was set up for training and capacity building.”
The RCO data, Ntwali added, has been added in the NASA-funded Advanced Global Atmospheric Gases Experiment (AGAGE), a global atmospheric measurement program.
“Rwandan scientists have gained the capability, using computer modelling and observatory data, to calculate regional trace gas sources, sinks, climate change, and air pollution,” he said.
Having a data centre will imply several benefits including providing the local capacity to take advantage of revenue-yielding opportunities that mitigate climate change by applying the ability to quantify regional and local climate and greenhouse gas sources.
RSA, Ntwali highlighted, will use observatory data together with satellite data to monitor the climate and air pollution in Rwanda and the region in order to provide advice to the government, national institutions and other stakeholders.
With climate observatory data, RSA will help to validate satellite data and also provide advice on future policies related to air pollution and climate change with sound science.
“The research on climate and weather needs high spatial and temporal resolution data. As the RCO data are limited to cover the big area, RSA will improve the current knowledge of African emissions by combining RCO and satellite data,” the email response added, “This will help cover a big area beyond Rwanda and the region to fill the gap of small spatial resolution of RCO data.”
Going forward, Ntwali asserted that the idea is to “Build up a knowledge base needed to take advantage of schemes designed to bring economic benefits from reducing effects of climate change.”