Skip to Main Content
Sixty-two years after the first photos of earth taken by a camera aboard a V-2 rocket in October, 1946, and forty-eight years since the first CORONA satellite images were captured, the status of remote sensing research and applications within the African continent has made dramatic progress. Many African countries now have remote sensing research centers, within government agencies, research institutes and universities. Some countries in Africa currently have earth observing and/or telecommunications satellites in orbit and/or have such assets in various planning stages. The authors document such progress, in addition to the constraints to further applications of remote sensing for sustainable development in Africa, with special reference to data distribution constraints. Moreover, the authors address the urgency for bandwidth improvements within the African continent, so as to enable sustainable development initiatives to benefit from advances in high performance computing, required for ab initio near-real-time analysis of satellite-data. Such capabilities, it is argued, are propaedeutic for time-critical initiatives, such as vulnerability assessment, disaster preparedness and mitigation, emergency response, humanitarian assistance and post-calamity reconstruction, associated with a wide array of biogenic and anthropogenic disasters. Case studies of advances in infrastructure for satellite remote sensing and high performance computing, with implications for sustainable development in Africa, are provided from Egypt, Nigeria and South Africa.