Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Update on Africa

We are drawing to the end of our all too brief visit to Trieste, and we're very pleased that so many speakers have been available to stand in front of our e-ScienceTalk cameras and be interviewed. Our booth has also been busy- I’ve never seen pens and brochures be so popular!

This afternoon we have heard some news from Africa from our generous hosts ICTP and from the Africa Adaptation Programme. Dr Onime from ICTP ( told us about their most recent initiative to support research in Africa. ICTP is 90% funded by the Italian government, and Trieste is actually one of the major centres for science in Italy, with the Elettra synchrotron and other institutions just down the road. In partnership with UNESCO, ICTP are developing a research infrastructure for Africa that includes HCP.

The aim is to create two centres for climate modelling in Ethiopia and Ivory Coast, an HPC atomistics science centre in Cameroon and three training centres. They have already worked with Addis Ababa University to set up a cluster – next stop is the University of Cocody in Ivory Coast.

The Africa Adaptation Programme ( sees climate change as not just a scientific but also a socio-economic and political problem. Especially when it comes to disaster recovery – they estimate that 96% of events, 99% of casualties and 50% of economic damage in the region is due to disasters that are hydro meteorological in origin.

Climate modelling means moving from global to local scales, over time periods of days to decades. Not an easy task, and the AAP initiative has funding from the Government of Japan until 2012 to address the problem. Covering 20 countries, AAP aims to improve government planning and policy making, provide support for leadership development, find innovative funding solutions and set up region-wide databases.

On a practical level, they get involved in helping national projects while they are at an early stage, assist with accessing, collecting and analysing data on climate change, and help to build capacities in ICT and infrastructure. Part of this includes establishing early warning and decision support tools, driven by automated remote sensing stations and sensors. Taking a leaf from WLCG’s book, they are planning to set up a tiered infrastructure, possibly with the Tier 0 located here in Trieste.

Finally we heard from EuroAfrica-ICT ( who aim to put African research partners in touch with other, with a view to participating in EC funded projects. GridCast already attended their conference in a rather chilly Helsinki in December last year. The next cooperation forum on ICT research is planned for November 14-15 in Cape Town. Hopefully it should be slightly warmer!

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