Along with their participation in the Southern African Development Community (SADC), all SADC Member States also belong to the World Meteorological Organization. This international agency is dedicated to fostering cooperation and providing expertise on issues of weather and climate around the world. As part of this organisation, Member States agree to participate in its programmes and to maintain their own national meteorological infrastructure, including Observational Networks and the Global Telecommunications System.
The Global Telecommunications System
The Global Telecommunications System is a dedicated network of terrestrial and satellite telecommunication links that transmit meteorological data, connecting together field stations and meteorological services around the world. It allows real-time weather information from observation stations to be distributed globally, ensuring that all members of the World Meteorological Organization have up-to-date access to data, forecasts, and weather alerts. While this network is useful for determining weather patterns, it is essential in developing warning systems for extreme meteorological events, such as tsunamis.
In addition to a worldwide satellite network, the Global Telecommunications System also consists of three main terrestrial networks:
- The Main Telecommunication Network (MTN), which links together the World Meteorological Centres in Melbourne, Moscow, and Washington;
- The Regional Meteorological Telecommunication Networks (RMTNs), with 15 hubs spanning four continents. The regional Meteorological Telecommunication Networks for Africa is shown in the diagram below; and
- The National Meteorological Telecommunication Networks (NMTNs), which collect and distribute meteorological information at a national level.
While all Member States acknowledge the importance of their participation in the World Meteorological Organization, not all Member States have the capacity to maintain meteorological infrastructure at an effective level. World Meteorological Organisation’s Annual Global Monitoring has consistently found that telecommunications systems across the SADC region are unsatisfactory, hindering data collection for weather and climate with effects on an international scale.
Therefore, SADC is currently working with the World Meteorological Organisation to implement a US $4.2 million project,entitled Improvement of Meteorological Telecommunications and Communication Systems for Rapid Data Collection, Exchange and Dissemination of Data and Information.
This project strives to develop the telecommunications facilities in the region by rehabilitating existing technology and introducing new systems for transmitting meteorological data. It aims to accomplish these improvements through the following strategic interventions:
- Acquiring or replacing automatic message switching systems at national meteorological services;
- Developing a policy with Member States to support a V-sat network for exchanging meteorological data and products in the region;
- Supporting national meteorological services in rehabilitating and modernising telecom networks for data collection and transmission;
- Upgrading and modernising national meteorological services’ media systems; and
- Supporting national meteorological services in implementing broadband high-speed Internet access.
Running through 2027, this project is expected to institute a modern telecommunications infrastructure network for weather and climate data, contributing information that is beneficial both in the region and around the world.
- Regional Infrastructure Development Master Plan
- Regional Infrastructure Development Master Plan Meteorology Sector Plan
- Protocol on Transport, Communications and Meteorology