Two recommendations to advance the geospatial data sector in Senegal


Experts issue a roadmap to leverage the sector for development and innovation

Geospatial data, defined as information that describes objects or events in relation to a location and is primarily obtained from satellites, has a wide range of applications for sustainable development.

For example, city planners can use this data to map housing and transport patterns to better plan public services and infrastructure. The information can also help farmers inform their decisions and become more resilient to climate change. In short, the potential is enormous, offering startups the opportunity to thrive in this sector and generate many high-value jobs.

In this sense, the geospatial sector has become a priority for many African countries aiming to make the most of the digital transformation, such as Senegal.

It is in this spirit that the AU-EU D4D Hub project organised a series of workshops on June 1st and 2nd to promote the use of geospatial data for the development of innovative digital solutions in Senegal.

This activity was facilitated by Expertise France and Enabel, two of the project's implementing partners, in collaboration with the French Embassy in Senegal, Action SMEs Africa of the Copernicus Programme, and partner public institutions, notably the Ministry of Higher Education, Research and Innovation the Ministry of Digital Economy and Telecommunications, the General Delegation for Rapid Entrepreneurship of Women and Youth (DER/FJ), the Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development, and the Inter-institutional Group for Coordination and Consultation on Geomatics (GICC).

The rich and varied exchanges, which brought together 120 European and Senegalese experts from different sectors, resulted in two high-level recommendations, reflecting the most pressing actions identified by all participants. These recommendations show a common ambition of the Senegalese government, its European partners, international organisations, academia, the private sector, and civil society to advance the geospatial sector in the country.

1. Strategy first

According to the participants, it is important for Senegal to adopt a true national strategy and policy for the development of the space and geospatial sector that not only sets the legal framework but is adapted to the specificities of the national context and the priority themes for the country's sustainable and social development. Among these priorities are the management of mining and natural resources, support for the agricultural sector (smart agriculture) and the coastal and maritime economy (blue economy), the management of environmental emergencies and natural areas, or the management of urbanisation (smart cities).

In practical terms, such a policy or strategy could, on the capacity-building side, include the creation of a national training institute for space and geospatial, as well as a national research laboratory in these areas. It was also suggested to include geomatics training programmes adapted to today's technological context and market needs, as well as strengthening bridges between universities, the public sector and industry, including creating more international partnerships.

In terms of entrepreneurship, the international space sector is undergoing a revolution thanks to nano-satellites and reusable launchers (NewSpace), creating an immense field of opportunities for new services. Space policy could include the establishment of a dedicated program to accompany and support innovative entrepreneurship in the sector and mobilise national and international private investors.

2. Bringing together the players

The second recommendation proposes the creation of a cluster or hub bringing together the various players in the geospatial sector. This structure could be made up of companies, investors, universities, entrepreneurial support structures and potential users of space and geospatial data, including central and local governments as well as civil society, professional and associative communities.

The cluster would have the mission to animate different communities: first, thematic communities such as training or entrepreneurship; and second, sectoral communities, such as the Smart Agriculture community, currently prefigured by the GIA Hub (a digital innovation hub supported by the AEDIB|NET project), or the blue economy community, or the Smart City community.

By capitalising on the progress of the National Geomatics Plan (PNG), the cluster can contribute to the definition of a national legal framework adapted to the stakes of space for the future of Senegal. It can also facilitate the valorisation of the results of public and private research of the Senegalese space and geospatial ecosystem, and mobilise the national digital infrastructures (supercomputer, datacenters, national data infrastructure) at the service of the cluster members.

Taking these recommendations as a basis for their work, participants concluded that it is important to quickly develop an operational roadmap and to promote a more systematic consultation of the Senegalese government with all stakeholders in the space and geospatial sector.

To learn more, please download the workshop report (in French):

  • Compte rendu ateliers D4 D Senegal
    1.23 MB