11 Aug 2022

Digital Earth Africa is just three years old, and is already recognised internationally for its leadership in the Earth observation industry. The unprecedented Earth observation capability is accessible to 54 countries and over 1.4 billion people across Africa. 

Digital Earth Africa improves the lives of people in Africa by providing planners and policymakers with prioritised EO information that supports better decision-making and sustainable development outcomes.

Over the last three years, the Digital Earth Africa Team has drawn on a global network of expertise, experience and partnerships with the private sector, international space agencies and EO science experts to establish a continental scale, free and accessible EO platform. This includes building an interactive mapping platform, six world-leading Earth observation services, one of the largest repositories of open access Jupyter notebooks and an award-winning capacity development program. 

DE Africa 2022 Highlights

Digital Earth Africa represents a powerful capability for the African continent. Earth observation can empower government, researchers and industry to draw insights on the what, where and when of sustainable development challenges facing their countries.” Andiswa Mlisa, Co-Chair Digital Earth Africa Technical Advisory Committee and Acting CEO, South African National Space Agency.

With foundations based on innovation from the Open Data Cube and experience from Digital Earth Australia, the DE Africa platform and services have contributed to the acceleration of analysis ready data and cloud optimised Earth observation data formats. This infrastructure supplies a range of continental scale and near real-time data sets and decision-ready products. Thanks to international collaboration with private sector innovators, there is now an established daily data pipeline bringing data from the US Geological Survey and the European Space Agency to Africa. As a result, users in Africa and around the world have access to over 3 PB of free and open, analysis-ready data from the 1980s to the present day from six satellite missions.

Digital Earth Africa Highlights 

  • Over 3PB of free and open analysis-ready data, for sustainable development, from six different satellites.
  • The release of continental scale services Water Observations from Space, Fractional Cover, the Cropland Extent Map and GeoMAD as world leading Earth observation services. 
  • Over a 100 analysis tools supporting 7 Sustainable Development Goals 
  • Reaching over 10,000 users of the DE Africa interactive mapping platform.  
  • More than 2,000 registered users of the DE Africa Sandbox.
  • Certifying over 300 graduates in the free short course ‘Introduction to the DE Africa Sandbox’ on the DE Africa Learning Platform. 
  • Opening the Program Management Office and transitioning the leadership from the Establishment Team at Geoscience Australia, to the new leadership team in Pretoria. 
  • Featuring in the Amazon documentary series ‘Climate Next’ as a leading example of the impact of innovation in Earth observation. 

The platform, services and opportunities that DE Africa provides translate Earth observations into insights that support sustainable development and climate action, and are improving the lives of people across Africa. Here are just some stories of impact across Africa. 

Earth observation has been used to provide vital protection for a family of highly endangered Rothschild giraffes. The giraffes became marooned on Longicharo, a peninsula that had become an island in the centre of Lake Baringo due to rising Rift Valley Lakes as a result of the changing climate. Using DE Africa services, researchers identified a new home for the giraffes and relocated the family to a safe location. 

    Rangers with endangered Rothschild giraffes Kenya

      When you put real time data in the hands of people, it will truly amaze you what they can do with it. Digital Earth Africa has been putting this data in the hands of governments and communities that can actually use the data for conservation purposes”. Davis Adieno - Global Partnership for Sustainable Development Data. Explore the story here.

      Ghana Statistical Services using DE Africa for decision making

        Digital Earth Africa has also impacted decision making in government. Social Statistician and DE Africa Technical Advisory Committee Co-Chair Omar Seidu and his team from the Ghana Statistical Service have been using Digital Earth Africa in Ghana to strengthen the National Statistical System in order to meet the African Agenda 2063. 

        Based on the success in Ghana there is immense potential for the other countries within the African continent to use the Digital Earth Africa data and services to underpin their own sustainability goals.” Omar Seidu. Ghana National Statistical Service and Technical Advisory Committee Co-Chair. Learn more here.

          Digital Earth Africa is currently partnering with the Regional Centre for Mapping of Resources for Development (RCMRD) and FrontierSI to design an open-source framework for crop type mapping in Zambia. The team is combining field data with the services and tools of Digital Earth Africa to create a reproducible algorithm to analyse crop types. Field work is already underway in Zambia with the team at the Ministry of Agriculture, Zambia, being trained in the use of the ODK-based ECAAS field mapper tool kit. 

          "For a region [East Africa] that is constantly faced with food insecurity, the DE Africa crop mask forms the basis for effectively understanding the dynamics of food production by knowing where the crops are, how much there is, and on how these lands ought to be managed," David Ongo, RCMRD, Kenya. Learn more here

            Ministry of Agriculture, Zambia, doing field work to validate ECAAS

              Dr Kelebogile Mfundisi, Research Scholar at the University of Botswana, has been using tools and data from DE Africa to observe and analyse the changing extent of water in the Okavango Delta in Botswana. Lake Ngami, an important water resource to the local community, is reaching exceptionally low levels during increasingly severe droughts in the region. Learn more here


              From early 2019 to mid-2022, the DE Africa establishment program has been led by Geoscience Australia (GA). In this time, the team successfully established a capability operating in Africa, which from 1 July 2022 transitioned to being fully led and managed in Africa. The DE Africa Program Management Office is now hosted at the South African National Space Agency with staff in Kenya, Ghana and Rwanda, operating partners in Kenya, South Africa, Tunisia, Nigeria, Niger, and Senegal, and other significant partnerships across the continent. 

              It is led by Managing Director, Dr Thembi Xaba. 

              I am delighted to be a part of the journey of growth for Digital Earth Africa, leading the organisation from our Program Management Office here in Pretoria,” says Dr Xaba. “The establishment of the Program Management Office and the appointment of an Executive team in Africa marks a point of growth, of transition and of great promise for what we can achieve together.

              Digital Earth Africa would be nothing without the immense support of our partners and community of users. We would like to thank all the funding partners, implementation partners and the entire community that makes this program successful across the entire African continent. 

              The establishment of DE Africa is funded thanks to the Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust and the Australian Government, with support from Amazon Sustainability Data Initiative. DE Africa is proud to be a Group on Earth Observation Initiative.

              Highlights of three years of DE Africa