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FABA (For Africa By Africans): Climate Observatory

Ashley Oliver

(A column highlighting scientific, technological, engineering, and design innovation in Africa)

Scientist Jimmy Gasore is striving to make his native Rwanda a technopolis with the construction of a climate-based observatory in Kigali, the capital. His success could give Africa its first such observatory.

Gasore left Rwanda in 2011 to further his education in physics. He recently graduated from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he also is pursuing a Ph.D. in the Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences. During his visits Rwanda, he collaborates with local scientists on building the observatory.

Climate change has reached dangerous levels worldwide with the rapid increase of greenhouse gases. Since Africa covers one fifth of the globe, Gasore determined that building the observatory would be important in assessing and mitigating potential climate-related disruptions. “My goal is to be able to provide the first comprehensive regional high-frequency observation-based emissions estimate for central and Eastern Africa. This information will then form the basis for regional carbon policies as well as improving our current understanding of the global carbon budget,” he said in an article for the Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences Dep[artment.    

The observatory is expected to be located 2,500 meters (just over one and a half miles) above sea level on Mount Mugogo. Gasore hopes to complete its construction after he acquires his Ph.D. in 2017. He also hopes to teach locals about the importance of science and technology.

Rwandan President Paul Kagame last year announced to several news organizations that he wants to continue to enforce education in science, math, and technology. While the country still faces a shortage of electricity, he is optimistic that Rwandan natives who have traveled abroad to further their studies, like Gasore, will use their expertise to address the problem.

Positivo GBH, a laboratory just outside Kigali, has been training aspiring scientists to develop advanced, locally made technology for consumers. Juan Ponelli, the company’s president, says these new inventions would help to make Rwanda a magnet for high-tech investment.




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