The CSIR Satellite Applications Centre has successfully scooped a European Union Framework Programme (FP) 7 project, the EGNOS Service Extension to South Africa (ESESA).
The ESESA project aims to explore regional extension models for EGNOS. In particular, it aims at paving the way for the EGNOS implementation phase in southern Africa and SADC by addressing institutional and financial aspects and operational and certification matters, and by developing stakeholders' interest through awareness actions.
Lead partner on the ESESA project is France Développement Conseil (FDC); other partners include NDConsult, Ecorys and the CSIR.
EGNOS (European Geostationary Navigation Overlay Service) is Europe's first contribution to satellite navigation and a precursor of Galileo, the global satellite navigation system that the European Union (EU) is developing.
The ESESA project is in line with the EU Strategy for Africa (published in October 2005), in which the European Commission (EC) sees interconnecting Africa through, among others, transport and communication services as key to creating a positive economic environment in Africa.
The EGNOS implementation over the African continent is based on three cooperation instruments, the EURO-Mediterranean partnership associated with the Neighbourhood Policy for North Africa, the Cotonou Agreement addressing the sub-Saharan Africa and the Agreement on Trade, Development and Cooperation with South Africa.
Africa's civil aviation community has had a long-running interest in implementing a satellite-based augmentation system (SBAS) which is a powerful enabler for economic opening-up of isolated regions. SBAS has the potential to make regional airports accessible to national, intercontinental and intra-African flights, and improve transport infrastructure in general. Civil aviation is recognised as the primary beneficiary of the deployment of SBAS in southern Africa.
EGNOS also promises new applications in a number of different sectors - for example, in agriculture, with high-precision spraying of fertilisers, or in transport, with automatic road-tolling, vehicle-tracking and pay-per-use insurance schemes. EGNOS can also support much more precise personal navigation services, both for general and specific uses - for example, systems to guide blind people.
The CSIR will be responsible for Work Package 3 (WP 3): Networking and dissemination, and WP 4: Operational framework. The CSIR team consists of Eugene Avenant, who leads the tracking, telemetry and commanding group at the CSIR Satellite Applications Centre, Pieter Kotzé and Elsa de Beer. All information will be made available via a website to be announced.
"We aim to engage with key stakeholders and institutions as part of our networking and dissemination activities," Avenant explains. "Feedback and dialogue are critical to realise successful outcomes." Two workshops are scheduled in South Africa, which will successively address civil general aviation, as well as other domains (maritime, rail, surveying and precision agriculture). These events are not only intended to raise awareness but also to validate with local actors the outcomes of the project.
Key local partners include the DST, the departments of Transport and of Trade and Industry and Air Traffic Navigation Services (ATNS) amongst others; international partners are the European Commission's Directorate General for Energy and Transport (EC DG TREN), European Space Agency (ESA) and European Satellite Services Provider (ESSP), amongst others.
The commencement of the ESESA project follows hot on the heels of the announcement that the European Commission (EC) has officially launched operations for EGNOS,with its Open Service now available free to businesses and citizens.
The CSIR's success in AFSAGA (African Satellite Communication and Galileo Application), an FP6 project led by Thales Alenia Space, paved the way for its inclusion as a partner on this project. "The existence of pre-existing knowledge about southern Africa and its requirements is of great value to this project," Avenant confirms.
Supporting the EU cooperation strategy in southern Africa, the ESESA project will result in a comprehensive institutional and operational roadmap for the EU and SADC decision makers in support of the EU-Africa 3rd and 8th thematic partnerships. EGNOS implementation in southern Africa will represent a kick start for implementation of systems elsewhere in Africa as SBAS is becoming the worldwide standard to provide global navigation satellite systems (GNSS) safety of life services.
EGNOS is a satellite-based augmentation system that improves the accuracy of satellite navigation signals over Europe. The accuracy of current global positioning system (GPS) signals has been improved from about ten metres to two metres.
EGNOS will be certified for use in aviation and other safety-critical areas in compliance with the Single European Sky regulation. A separate process will be followed for aviation certification in both Europe and Africa. This service will provide a valuable warning message informing the user within six seconds in case of a malfunction of the system.
EGNOS is composed of transponders aboard three geostationary satellites and a ground network of about 40 positioning stations and four control centres, all interconnected.
The EGNOS coverage area includes most European states and has the built-in capability to be extended to other regions, such as north and southern Africa and EU neighbouring countries.
EGNOS was developed by European industries, the EGNOS Operator and Infrastructure Group (EOIG) with the support of the EC, the ESA and Eurocontrol. Since April 1, EGNOS has been owned and managed by the EU while the ESA, which led the design and development of the system, is now the design and procurement agent through a delegation agreement with the EC.