Africa, the largest single component of the African Caribbean Pacific (ACP) Group of States, despite its huge potential for development through both human and georesources, suffers in many places from poverty and underdevelopment. The sustainable use of its resources is a key issue, not only for development of the African countries, but also for the world's future. Over the coming decades, these issues are likely to play an ever-increasing role due to the world's growing population, rapid urban development and the rising demand for better infrastructure and services in Africa.
The sustainable use of georesources requires knowledge based on data, information and expertise. However, initiatives by both African and European organizations are rarely coordinated and provide heterogeneous information systems. Moreover, data collected during colonial times constitute a unique archive of Africa related geoscientific information which primarily needs to be shared with African partners. Thus, the availability, traceability, accessibility and processing using Geographical Information System (GIS) technologies of heterogeneous data from multiple sources become a critical issue.
The SigAfrique Network project (http://www.sigafrique.net/) has been a preliminary attempt to provide a harmonised geological information system at the scale of the continent. In the European Commission 7th Framework Program, BRGM associated to 23 partners from Europe and Africa has proposed a Support Action as a preparatory phase needed to design an Observation System capable of hosting and providing access to georesources in Africa, including groundwater, energy and mineral resources. The main objectives of AEGOS project are to define: i) operational procedures for data management (Spatial Data Infrastructure, metadata and data specification), ii) user-oriented products and services including the preparation of innovative spin-off projects, iii) the African-European partner network, iv) a geoscience contribution to the Global Earth Observation System of Sytems, in the context of the Infrastructure for Spatial Information in Europe (INSPIRE). Thus, AEGOS will contribute to the development of a Solid Earth Observing System by exploring interoperability and interdisciplinarity scenarios in support of GEOSS and processing combined analysis of datasets related to georesources with other data from environment and socio-economic observation systems