Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Ericsson partners GHF, WMO on climate change

Global leader in telecommunications infrastructure, Ericsson, is partnering with the Global Humanitarian Forum (GHF), the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), and the Earth Institute at Columbia University, on a major climate change initiative, tagged “Weather Info for All”.

The partnership, according to the Marketing Communications Manager for Ericsson West Africa, Mr. Olabode Sowunmi, would radically improve Africa’s weather monitoring network in the face of the growing impact of climate change.

Recalling that a recent Global Humanitarian Forum report estimated that climate change is responsible for some 300,000 deaths each year and over USD 100 billion worth of economic losses, mainly because of shocks to health and agricultural productivity.

In Sub-Saharan Africa, the report stated, accounts for close to a quarter of these losses, and is the region at the most immediate risk of droughts and floods.

Agricultural yields in some areas are expected to fall by 50 per cent as early as 2020.The partnership will see to deployment of about 5,000 new automatic weather observation stations across Africa, intending to provide a massive increase in crucial information to predict and manage climate shocks.He noted that Africa has a network eight times below the WMO minimum recommended standard, and less than 200 weather stations that meet WMO observation requirements, compared to several thousand each in Europe, North America, and parts of Asia.

“The 5,000 weather stations will be installed at new and existing mobile network sites throughout the continent over coming years, in what promises to save lives and bring increased economic opportunity to tens of millions of people,” he said in a press statement made available to ITRealms Online last weekend.

Equally, he said, the innovative public-private partnership on a unique scale, relies on the core business of telecom, hence, Ericsson, the world’s leading provider of telecommunications equipment and services, will tap relationships with African operators such as Zain, who will host the weather equipment at mobile network sites being rolled out across Africa.

Pointing out that achieving the 5,000 target would require additional operator commitment and external financing. Speaking at the launch, President and CEO of Ericsson, Mr. Carl-Henric Svanberg said that as the leader in telecommunications infrastructure provisioning on the continent of Africa, they are motivated to rapidly expand mobile communications.

“This initiative presents a unique opportunity to simultaneously help mitigate the impact of climate change for those most affected and to strengthen weather networks and systems across the continent. We look forward to having more operators come on board to realize the full impact of the initiative,” he said.

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