Held April 27, 2000, Centre Universitaire Mediterranean (CUM), Nice, France


Meeting Objective:

Discuss possible organization of a project to establish a common geodetic reference system throughout Africa compatible with the International Terrestrial Reference System (ITRF). Discuss ways to involve the international geodesy community to work with African nations to develop a single, uniform, continental geodetic reference

system meeting international standards to replace the myriad national reference systems, many of which have not been maintained, and are out of date and inaccurate.


Meeting Organization:

Called by Claude Boucher, head of Commission X of the International Association of Geodesy (IAG) "Global and Regional Networks", also head of the ITRF and the representative of the International Earth Rotation Service (IERS) to the International GPS Service (IGS). The IGS is active globally in supporting the mission of the IAG & IERS/ITRF through the techniques and applications of the Global Positioning System (GPS). GPS is the most economical and widely accessible modern geodetic technology for realizing a continental reference network throughout Africa.


Executive Summary

The decision was taken at this preliminary meeting to pursue the coordination of a project designated "AFREF", the objective of which is to establish a continental, robust and homogenous geodetic reference system throughout Africa. Africa remains the only continent with paucity of satellite geodetic measurements, especially GPS observations, either episodic, or continuous. There are a few notable exceptions: locations in South Africa, single stations in Malindi, Kenya; Mas Palomas, Canary Islands, Spain; Libreville, Gabon and at previous times a station each in Ghana and Cote 'd Ivorie.

Difficulties of in-country support, communications, reliable infrastructure and lack of resources hinder permanent, high quality GPS station implementations a Helwan, Egypt; Adis Ababa, Ethiopia; Rabat, Morocco; and Kampala, Uganda, for example, where equipment have been installed.

This meeting and earlier ad-hoc discussions have highlighted the importance of a renewed effort to realize a reference system for this continent through international collaboration directly with the African nations. It was emphasized that the must truly be a joint effort with Africans to be successful and that it must focus on the

transfer of appropriate technology to sustain the references with modern instrumentation, e.g. GPS and other satellite techniques. It is also noted that resources will be required to enable organizational participation and project activities (e.g. travel, equipment, technical support, etc.)

The meeting attendees agreed to further explore and pursue a joint project 'AFREF' with the Africans and other international partners, and that such a project should:

  1. Support and ensure the fundamental basis for the national 3-d reference networks for today and in the future through a continental African geodetic network fully consistent and homogeneous with the global reference frame of the ITRF.
  2. Establish continuous, permanent GPS stations such that each nation or each user has free access (and at least within 1000km) of such stations.
  3. Provide a sustainable development environment for technology transfer, so that these activities will enhance the national networks and numerous applications with readily available technology
  4. Understand the necessary geodetic requirements of participating national and international agencies.
  5. Assist in establishing in-country expertise for implementation, operations, processing and analyses of modern geodetic techniques, primarily GPS.


Ruth Neilan, acknowledging contributions from Jim Slater


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