GEO to Keep Unleashing the Power of Open Data

Remarks by the Minister of Science and technology

Press release from the GEO Conference

Geneva, 17 January 2014 – In Geneva today, the Group on Earth Observations (GEO) received unanimous endorsement to unleash the power of open data for a second decade. There was agreement to continue building on the organization's first 10 years of pioneering environmental advances, which are designed to improve the quality of life of people everywhere. Fueled by open data, GEO's efforts are now evident in most regions of the world. GEO is comprised of 90 member nations, the European Commission and 77 Participating Organizations.

"GEO is successfully meeting its mandate, which is to make data and other information open, accessible and easy to discover for decision makers around the world," said Mr. Janez Potočnik, European Commissioner for the Environment. "GEO's vision is now operational, a proven force for putting sound science to work across nine essential areas: agriculture, biodiversity, climate, disasters, ecosystems, energy, health, water and weather."


From Department of Science and Technology

 Thank you Chair


We would like to highlight some of the advances made by South Africa with respect to Earth Observation and our contributions to GEO vision and GEOSS.

South Africa, through the Department of Science and Technology, has made major strides in the development and implementation of the South African Earth Observation Strategy (SAEOS), which is aimed at promoting an integrated Earth observation system. The strategy, approved in October 2006 and launched during the margins of the GEO IV Plenary in Cape Town, captures the country’s response to the 10-year Implementation Plan for a Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS). The SAEOS Earth Observation Data Centre and the web-based Portal have been developed and are currently being operationalised and institutionalised. The Portal is integrated to the GCI and contributed resources to the GEOSS Data-CORE. South Africa strongly believes that the SAEOS model could form the basis for other African EO strategies.


National Communities of Practice have been established and these have been encouraged to contribute to GEO Work Plan and activities. South Africa is now active in 19 GEO tasks and is lead of 4 components. For a country with limited resources and capacity, this is a significant contribution. South Africa – through NEOSS, has also played a significant support role in launching AfriGEOSS and promoting the initiative within the GEO community and in other relevant platforms. Furthermore, South Africa is involved in (and will continue to be involved in) initiatives such as the Africa Working Group on Land Cover Mapping, GEO Global Agriculture Monitoring (GEOGLAM), Blue Planet, GEO Global Biodiversity Network (GEOBON), African Water Cycle Initiative and GEO Common Infrastructure (GCI). In all these initiatives South Africa has both contributed and benefited from its participation.

With further development and enhancement of the SAEOSS Portal, South Africa continues to contribute to data discovery and access of space, aerial and in-situ datasets.


The Research and Development institutions in South Africa like the CSIR, are actively applying the standards and interoperability philosophy promoted by GEO such that important locally produced datasets can be freely shared and accessed. For example, through Sensor Web Enablement Southern Ocean datasets that were not previous openly available have been incorporated into SAEOSS. GEO-Spatial infrastructure that can be shared and accessed across the continent has been established at the CSIR and is used to host data and operational services accessible to all. Our institutions are also actively working on Earth Observation projects with many of our other African partners and are making use of GEO led innovations like GEONETCAST together with mobile technology to provide access to EO services as a way to deal with infrastructure challenges.

Successful launch of Tshepiso Sat

Congratulations on the successful launch of TshepisoSat (Code name ZA-CUBE1) - South Africa's first cubesat!

SA's first nano-satellite, code named ZACUBE-1, designed and built by Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT) postgraduate students to monitor space weather, took off today from the Yasny Launch Base in Russia, on top of a RS-2OB Dnepr rocket. The tiny 1,2kg cube will travel 6-billion kilometres in space before re-entry into the Earth's atmosphere

Funded by the South African Department of Science & Technology, the nano-satellite was designed and built by CPUT postgraduate students participating in the Satellite Systems Engineering Programme at the French South African Institute of Technology (F'SATI) in Bellville, in collaboration with the South African National Space Agency (SANSA). ZACUBE-1 has also received its official licence from the South African Council for Space Affairs (SACSA) and will now be included in South Africa's national register of space assets.

ZACUBE-1 will orbit earth up to 15 times a day at an altitude of 600km. "The launch of ZACUBE-1 marks a momentous achievement in the technology landscape of this country through the development of new and necessary skills and knowledge that will play a significant part in moving us toward a sought after knowledge economy," said SANSA CEO, Dr. Sandile Malinga, who was speaking at CPUT's Bellville campus today, where students and guests witnessed the launch (at 9.10am South African time), from the Yasny launch base, located in the Orenburg Region, Russia, via a live audio-feed.

"This new satellite will enable data gathering on space weather for SANSA which is integral to the understanding and monitoring of solar activity during this period of solar maxima," he added. "This is a phenomenon that can have critical implications to the functionality of our technology and electrical power system on Earth as well as the operation of satellites."

Exciting opportunities at the Space Agency

SANSA is embarking on a drive to foster the development and growth of a viable space industry in South Africa. The envisaged space industry should be sufficiently large and diverse
enough to meet national needs and goals on space, and will ultimately be the primary custodian and developer of our space technology base, including capabilities to design, build and where and when appropriate, operate space and ground-based assets.

The agency is offering the following vacancies for taented South Africans who can make a valuable contribution to the space industry of this country.

 - Executive Director: Space Programme (Pretoria) – 5 Year Contract

- Space Industry Development Specialist (Pretoria) - 1 Year Contract

- Software Developer (Contract)

- Engineer (2 year contract in Hermanus)

Should you be interested in applying, please register your detailed CV at

We wish you the best of luck!

Space in our daily lives

South Africa is in the race for space through exciting and innovative opportunities managed by the South African National Space Agency (SANSA). The intention is to bring a benefit to our citizens and the global community.


This World Space Week, an initiative by the United Nations to acknowledge the strides made by humanity in space and the impacts of these on our lives, is celebrated around the world from 4-10 October. The theme for 2013 is 'Exploring Mars, Discovering Earth' which may not appear very relevant to the direction taken by SANSA, however, the Agency provides support and research opportunities for astronomy and potential space travel through collaboration with local and international educational institutions and organisations.

The focus for SANSA is to bring the benefit of space science and technology investment back to South Africans through various space programmes from Earth observation and space science research to providing space operations support and exploring the space engineering competencies through development of our next satellite (EO-SAT1).

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