Maastricht Economic and social Research and  training centre on Innovation and Technology

Africa bridging the digital divides: New policy note
Information and communication technology is developing rapidly in Africa – but there are worrying trends, such as a growing digital divide between men and women, and between urban and rural areas. These are the basic findings of a new policy note by Prof. Samia Nour, an affiliated researcher at UNU-MERIT.

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  • Europe plans Sentinel satellite expansion
    Europe has begun the process of scoping an expansion to its Sentinel Earth observation network. Six new satellite concepts will be studied, including a constellation of spacecraft that can monitor emissions of carbon dioxide. Invitations to tender (ITTs) for the feasibility work will be sent out to industry in the coming weeks.

    The European Space Agency (ESA) hopes to put a list of satellites for implementation before ministers in late 2019. Those platforms that are selected would launch in the mid-2020s. Precisely how many of the six will make it to the launch pad will depend on the funds available.

    As well as a CO2 mission, the so-called A/B1 studies will look at the potential of a thermal infrared sensor, a hyper-spectral imager, and three satellites that could have applications in polar regions - an L-band radar, a topography mission, and a passive microwave radiometer.

    The topography satellite would essentially be an operational version of Cryosat, the current ESA altimeter spacecraft that has transformed knowledge about the shape and thickness of ice fields, such as Antarctic glaciers and Arctic sea-ice. The radiometer would be an advance on ageing US and Japanese satellites that are presently used to measure the extent of marine floes. L-band radar is effective in monitoring shipping lanes for hazards such as icebergs, among other uses.

    The Sentinels are part of the EU's Copernicus programme, which is developing a comprehensive 'health check' for the planet. The spacecraft data is also being used in member states to inform and enforce EU policies. Five Sentinels are already flying. A sixth - a UK/Dutch-built platform to monitor air quality - will go up in a fortnight's time.

    BBC News    September 28, 2017