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Rockefeller foundation to promote climate infra and development in Africa – Geospatial World

American philanthropic organization Rockefeller foundation announced a $5.5 million collaboration with Atlas-AI and e-GUIDE to promote climate resilient infrastructure and encourage economic development in Africa. The partnership will span three years and will benefit from methods such as Machine Learning and Satellite Data technology. The platform will provide policymakers with extensive cross-sectoral insight into where new infrastructure development can help mitigate community vulnerabilities and promote economic opportunities, ultimately assisting efforts to prioritize and sequence investments more effectively in these key sectors.
“While data science has been used to improve individual development projects, we haven’t yet unlocked its potential to improve development at a systems level — which is critical, because efforts to drive change in energy, agriculture, and transportation must be integrated in order to make opportunity universal and sustainable,” says Zia Khan, Senior Vice President of Innovation at The Rockefeller Foundation.
“For more than a decade, the scientific community has been demonstrating the use of data from new sensors like satellites along with AI technologies to measure specific development indicators such as the performance of staple crops, the wealth accumulation of households, and the pace of electrification,” Abe Tarapani, CEO of Atlas AI said.
e-GUIDE and Atlas AI have also partnered with the Kigali Collaborative Research Centre (KCRC) in Rwanda to leverage KCRC’s research and innovation leadership in energy systems, data science, artificial intelligence, transportation, and climate change across Africa.
In 2021, the Rockefeller group announced a $35 million stimulus to ensure more equitable access to Covid-19 testing and vaccines; leverage innovation, data, and machine learning; combat the escalating food crisis, and scale up access to renewable energy in Africa.
“Since The Rockefeller Foundation first opened its Africa Regional Office in Nairobi in 1966, the region has remained a top priority for us,” said Dr. Rajiv J. Shah, President of The Rockefeller Foundation. “With this initial round of funding, we are beginning to deliver on our billion-dollar pledge to help end the Covid-19 pandemic in Africa and for us all, while investing in wealth-building opportunities for those who have been shut out of economic progress and are bearing the brunt of this pandemic.”
The largest portion of the stimulus, around USD 12 million, went to the Africa Public Health Foundation to expand the geographic availability of testing centers to both urban and rural areas as well as strengthen community-level tracing efforts, and enhance data infrastructure through the Africa CDC’s Partnership to Accelerate Covid-19 Testing (PACT).
Currently, the Rockefeller Foundation is working on advanced regenerative agriculture in Kenya, Rwanda, Ethiopia, Tanzania, and Uganda. This initiative will help outfit markets with clean and sustainable infrastructure and invest in smarter and more regenerative procurement practices that support the growth of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) while renewing the planet.
Launched in 2018 by The Rockefeller Foundation alongside the University of Massachusetts (UMass) Amherst, Columbia University, Carnegie Mellon University, and the Colorado School of Mines, e-GUIDE (Electricity Growth and Use In Developing Economies Initiative) is an effort to apply data science to electricity demand prediction in energy-poor emerging economies.
“We want to develop tools to measure how infrastructural developments such as roads, electricity systems, and agriculture lead to economic development,” said Jay Taneja, Assistant Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at UMass Amherst, and principal investigator on the project. “We want to understand which combinations result in the most extensive and fastest economic development, primarily in countries in sub-Saharan Africa.”
Established in 2018, Atlas AI is a public benefit technology start-up based in Silicon Valley. It is also an extension of the Rockefeller group teamed with Stanford University professors. Atlas AI uses data from a range of planetary sensors along with deep learning AI technologies to monitor changes to global economic and societal well-being.
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