The general objective of the agro-Automated Weather Stations (AWS) is to collaborate with industry experts to develop and install innovative weather system technology in key farming areas of Ghana (Brong Ahafo, Eastern and Volta Regions) to communicate critical real-time and forecasted weather data to the farmers to significantly improve livelihoods and farming as an economic activity in Ghana.
The initial proposal to establish a GEONETCast station in Ghana was conceptualized during the Africa Association of Remote Sensing for the Environment Conference held in Uganda from the 22 -24th October 2009. During this conference, Dr. B.H. P Maathuis and Mr. Amos Kabo-bah of Faculty of Earth Observation and Geoinformation Sciences in the Netherlands installed a GEONETCast station for the Makere University in Kampala. Realizing the enormous benefits that such a station could have for Ghana, Mr. Kabo-bah developed a proposal for consideration to the European Space Agency via GEONETCast. The proposal was submitted in January 2010 and approved with license to kick-start the project in Ghana the following month. However, the condition was that, such a facility be hosted at a University. Mr. Kabo-bah liaised with Mr. Frank Annor of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology about the possibility of hosting the facility at his department. Unfortunately, this did not materialize.
Then, in the year 2012, Mr. Kabo-bah discussed the issue with the Vice Chancellor of the University of Energy and Natural Resources (UENR), Prof. Mrs. Esi Awuah about the possible establishment of such a system at the university. The VC lauded the idea and this led to the establishment of the first GEONETCast receiving station at the UENR. A two-day workshop on the use of the GEONETCast work station for energy and natural resources management was held at the Council Chamber of the University from the 26th to the 27th of September, 2013. The workshop was facilitated by Dr. Bernardus H.P. Maathius of the Faculty of Geo-information Science and Earth observation (ICT) in the Netherlands and coordinated by Dr. Amos T. Kabo-bah, a lecturer at the University of Energy and Natural Resources. The GEONETCast is a task component of the Group on Earth Observation (GEO) to distribute space-based, air-borne and in-situ data, metadata and products to diverse communities with special emphasis on developing countries.The Group on Earth Observation (GEO) was launched in response to calls for action by the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development to build a Global Earth System of Systems (GEOSS). The University of Energy and Natural Resources is the first university in Ghana to have obtained this facility to reliably obtain real-time data. The workshop brought together twenty-two (22) lecturers from the UENR and the Catholic University College, Fiapre.
In her opening address, the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Energy and Natural Resources, Prof. Mrs. Esi Awuah urged participants to make an effective use of the workshop training in order to make better-informed decisions in the management of natural and environmental resources. This she said was because of the support GEONETCast gives towards research on the eradication of the negative impacts of climate change. Dr. Maathius in his presentation enlightened participants on the importance of obtaining near real-time data for the informed monitoring of our natural and environmental resources. According to him, GEONETCast is a system that supports the dissemination of space-based, air-borne and in situ data using telecommunication technology. Therefore, large amounts of data are downloadable without the use of the internet. Participants were also taken through the configuration procedures of installation of the equipment, the management of the data and real-time monitoring of the Meteosat Second Generation (MSG) satellite data disseminated over the Ghana region. He also outlined how GEONETCast could contribute to the reduction of loss of life and property from natural and human-induced disasters over the next decade. Other benefits include a better understanding, assessing, predicting, mitigating and adapting to climate variability and change, improving water resource management through a better understanding of the water cycle and improving weather information, forecasting and warning. Also, the workstation would help improve the management and protection of terrestrial, coastal and marine ecosystems, supporting sustainable agriculture and combating desertification and understanding, monitoring and conserving biodiversity.At the end of the workshop, it was recommended that the university develop a GEONETCast center and make it a vibrant resource center for the organization of workshops and training for universities, colleges and other research institutions in the country.
The reception station evolved into a training Centre popularly called the GEONETCast Centre. One of the key moves was the development of a Fire and Disaster Management Curriculum.
The project, inspired by Prof. Daniel Obeng-Ofori sought to develop an innovative and practically oriented curriculum and competency based training at the basic, intermediate and advanced levels. This curriculum takes into consideration local, technical, industrial and academia expertise as well as modern technology transfer to benefit stakeholders in fire and disaster detection, prevention, suppression and management. The end benefit is to protect the economic gains made by industry, protect the environment, and make lives safer with the ultimate goal of ensuring sustainable growth of Ghana’s GDP. The project brought together partners and leaders from the Canadian Forest Service (team led by Dr. David Nannang), CSIR Meraka Institute of South Africa (led by Mr. Lee Annamalei), Ghana National Fire Service (led by DCFO W. J. Mensah), Resource Management Support Centre of the Forestry Commission (led by Mr. Richard Ninnoni), CSIR –Forestry Research Institute of Ghana (led by Dr. K. O. Afriyie) and UENR team – Prof. Daniel Obeng-Ofori, Dr. Fred Owusu-Ansah, Dr. Samuel FosuGyasi, Dr. Nana Derkyi, Dr. Simon Abugre, Dr. Amos T. Kabo-Bah (Project Leader), Dr. Mrs. Mercy Derkyi (Project Assistant), Mr. Albert BananAbdulai (Project Accountant) and Ms. Salome MbrahOwusu (Adminstrator).
The success of the this project led to the emerging projects such as the Carbon Monitoring Flux Tower being supported by the Global Change Research Institute (CzechGlobe) of Czech Republic. This project will give support the climate change monitoring and modelling and provide the Ghana with cutting edge technologies in providing answers to climate change. In addition, weather prediction has been earmarked as a key issue for the future. Therefore, Numerical Weather prediction has proven to improve and enhance existing weather forecasting mechanisms especially for the Gulf of Guinea. In follow up to this, the NOAA and the National Space Organisation of Taiwan decided to select UENR as a spot within West Africa to receive a ground station for COSMIC-2 programme. This programme would further enhance UENR image and partnership in the international community to support science for sustainable development.
With growing issues and developments within the GEONETCast Centre, the academic board agreed to rebrand the Centre in March 2016 as Earth Observation Research and Innovation Centre (EORIC). This branding was to showcase the Centre as a vibrant research arm of the University of Energy and Natural Resources(UENR)-Sunyani, Ghana responsible for the acquisition of real-time and near real time satellite-based data, air-borne and in-situ data, metadata and products, automatic weather monitoring, operations and management of unmanned aerial systems, virtual regional fire monitoring and modelling, organization of training programmes in the use of Earth Observation (EO) and Geographic Information Systems (GIS) techniques, collectively towards making informed decisions in the areas of water, disasters, health, energy, climate, agriculture, ecosystems and biodiversity. EORIC visions to become a leading Research Centre in Africa in the promotion and dissemination of value-added satellite and in-situ based data and information, transfer of ultra-modern affordable space science skills and technologies and enhancing innovations in theoretical and applied sciences for meeting the needs of society. The mission statement of the Centre is to promote, facilitate and support the acquisition and application of geospatial technologies in interdisciplinary research and education in areas of water, disasters, energy, climate, agriculture, ecosystems, weather health and biodiversity.