Pan-African air navigation services provider ASECNA has been given the go-ahead to start work preparing for the future deployment of Global Navigation Satellite System/European Geostationary Navigation Overlay Service (GNSS/EGNOS) in the region.

ASECNA, in consortium with consulting and engineering group Egis, engineering company Pildo Labs and European satellite services provider ESSP has been appointed by the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group (ACP) to implement the Satellite navigation services for African Region (SAFIR) project, which is being funded by the European Commission through the 10th EDF Intra-ACP envelope. The fund is secured within the framework of the EU-Africa common Strategy adopted in 2005 and the Joint EU-Africa Partnership established in December 2007.

The SAFIR project will last two years and cover the set-up, staffing and operations of an EGNOS-Africa Joint Program Office (JPO) with proper regional participation of the various beneficiary countries. The missions of the future JPO will be to define the baseline and oversee the subsequent implementation phase for the specification and procurement of the development and deployment of GNSS/EGNOS in Africa.

During the first two years of the SAFIR implementation phase, 10 staff members will be recruited. SAFIR, which will be housed in ASECNA’s Dakar offices, will also set up and support a number of technical working sessions composed of regional stakeholders concerned with GNSS/EGNOS in sub-Saharan Africa.

Several studies on the implementation of Satellite Based Augmentation System (SBAS) services in Africa have indicated significant social and economic benefits in many sectors and especially in aviation. Here it is expected that SBAS could help improve safety, enhance control coverage, open up new routes and reduce costs.

Cost-benefit analyses for an inter-regional SBAS suggest that cumulated benefits over a 30-year period could amount to approximately €1.7 billion ($2.22 billion) versus expected investments of about €360 million, according to GNSS-Africa.