At the West African Science Service Centre on Climate Change and Adapted Land Use (WASCAL) Ministerial Conference held on July 22nd in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, the foundation stone was laid for a new building of the WASCAL climate Competence centre. The Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) set up the West African Competence Centre for Climate Change and adapted land management together with eleven West African partner countries. The modern new building will house the WASCAL research and data centre, to which a graduate school for scientific data management will also be connected.
Federal Research Minister Anja Karliczek said:
“We need strong strategic partnerships at the international level in order to contain climate change and advance climate adaptation. The laying of the foundation stone for the new WASCAL Climate Competence Centre in Burkina Faso is an important sign of the joint commitment with our West African partners against climate change. The construction will help WASCAL to become the leading institution for regional climate research in West Africa. The BMBF is giving around seven million euros for the new building.
Together with West Africa, we are also investing in training specialists for climate protection and climate adaptation on site. So far, the BMBF has supported the training of almost 400 young academics at the twelve WASCAL graduate schools. The fifth year of study begins in autumn with 240 students. We are funding the programme with 12.5 million euros. In addition, as a new focus at four WASCAL locations, the BMBF has launched a master’s degree programme in ‘Green Hydrogen’ from 2021 in order to train specialists on site in this important climate protection technology and thus help shape their own future. I am very pleased that the interest in this new course is already very high. “
The innovation officer “Green Hydrogen” Dr. Stefan Kaufmann MdB, who represented the BMBF at today’s Ministerial Conference via online connection, explained:
“We can only master the challenge of climate change together. International cooperation is the central key – we need sustainable solutions for all continents and regions. With WASCAL, Germany is contributing to a West African success story. Since it was founded, a regional Competence Centre has developed here that extends far beyond the region. In a transnational approach, it brings the best minds together and makes a significant contribution to increasing the number of climate experts in the region. When the first WASCAL Graduate Schools were founded in 2012, the World Bank estimated the number of relevant specialists in West Africa to be less than 500. We have now almost doubled this number.
In October we will open another chapter for the future: 60 students will start a master’s degree on green hydrogen technologies. The green hydrogen economy is a unique opportunity for the states of West Africa – this is shown by the potential atlas ‘H2Atlas-Africa’ funded by the BMBF. Green hydrogen can become the engine of sustainable local development that opens up diverse opportunities and perspectives, especially for young people. We want to seize these opportunities together with our partners in West Africa. WASCAL plays a central role in this – as a platform for training specialists and an excellent local research infrastructure. “
For more than ten years, the BMBF has been committed to the WASCAL lighthouse project (West African Science Service Centre on Climate Change and Adapted Land Use) creating sustainable, effective scientific cooperation structures in the region. This is done in close partnership with the eleven West African countries of Benin, Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast, Gambia, Ghana, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Togo and Cape Verde. Sierra Leone, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau and Liberia are also expected to become members of the WASCAL community in the long term. The joint planning phase began in 2010 and implementation began in 2012. Since 2012, the BMBF has invested more than 120 million euros in research, capacity development and the expansion of observation networks.
The BMBF relies on strategic partnerships with West and South Africa in order to contain climate change and strengthen climate adaptation. There is also enough space and potential for solar and wind energy available here to not only cover your own energy needs on site, but also to be able to export energy in the form of green hydrogen. In this way, sustainable development in Africa can be supported and, at the same time, an important contribution can be made to achieve our climate goals in transport and industry.
The WASCAL competence center in Ouagadougou, together with German research partners, looks after a modern observation and measurement network in the entire WASCAL region and plans to expand it. Part of the WASCAL observation and measurement network is a network of 50 automatic weather stations and three experimental catchment areas in Ghana, Burkina Faso and Benin. An institutional long-term operation of the measurement networks by WASCAL and the national meteorological services should guarantee a high data quality without data gaps. Only long-term time series provide reliable input variables for regional climate change models, comprehensive analyzes of the interaction between climate, country and society and for scenarios as a basis for decisions. The WASCAL Competence Centre has its own satellite reception system, a laboratory for geographic information systems and remote sensing and a modern geodata portal (WADI). A high-performance computer (HPC) was installed to provide the required computing power. An interdisciplinary and international team of West African researchers oversees the research infrastructure of the Competence Centre and is a cooperation partner for the research projects of the WASCAL Graduate Schools and the research programme. Organizations: Benin Burkina Faso Cabo Verde Côte d’Ivoire Gambia Ghana Mali Niger Nigeria Region West Africa Senegal Togo Topics: Education and Universities Energy Funding Information and communication Infrastructure Environment and sustainability.