Remarks by Acting Public Affairs Officer – Amy Petersen at the launch of AirQo’s CLEAN Air Africa Network
U.S. Embassy Kampala | April 5, 2023 | (As prepared for delivery at Sheraton Hotel, Kampala)
- Representatives from the Government,
- Representatives from the Private Sector,
- Makerere University,
- Management and Staff of AirQo,
- Air quality experts from Across sub-Saharan Africa
- Media Fraternity,
- Distinguished Guests
- All protocols observed
Good evening! I am deeply honored to join you today on this occasion to launch the network for Championing Livable Urban Environments through African Network for Air (CLEAN-Air) Africa Network.
It’s an honor to be part of such an esteemed gathering that’s making an impact on the African continent.
It is exactly five years ago, when the U.S. Mission had the privilege of sponsoring AirQo’s Prof. Engineer Bainomugisha as well as nine other Ugandans from KCCA, NEMA, Makerere University School of Public Health, to go to the United States for training on air quality monitoring and mitigation through our International Visitor Leadership program. This is part of what U.S. Mission has done in the past 60 years – connecting leaders to U.S. experts, through exchange programs, to improve lives.
Today, we celebrate the commendable efforts of these U.S. exchange alumni in Uganda, who are actively working towards enhancing air quality and fostering collaborations not just in Uganda but across Africa. We are proud to have seen them grow, winning the Google AI Impact Challenge initiative which has greatly expanded availability and accessibility of air quality data in African cities.
It is truly inspiring to witness how Uganda’s successful air quality story is spreading to other African cities through AirQo. This aligns perfectly with the CLEAN-Air Africa network’s vision of spearheading Africa-led partnerships and enhancing regional networks to implement sustainable interventions for mitigating air pollution.
We are delighted that the United States, known for its support in capacity building for air quality management, is leading the way in supporting the CLEAN-Air Africa Network. Our continued collaborations will establish a regional network that will bring together air quality experts, decision-makers, community groups, private sectors, and other stakeholders to create knowledge and develop best practices.
Here are some of the steps we are taking to support these efforts:
- Each year, the U.S. Mission actively participates in the annual Air Quality Awareness Week, aiming to disseminate vital information about air quality and promote personal responsibility in reducing air pollution. The impact of these awareness campaigns has been profound, reaching a significant number of influential Ugandans exceeding three million. We plan to engage and amplify lessons learnt by AirQo’s community champions in Makindye Division
- To reduce air pollution caused by road transportation which is one of the top sources of pollution in Kampala city, we have worked with AirQo to conduct training workshops for automobile technicians and spare parts fabricators, providing them with the necessary knowledge to advise their customers to reduce air pollution.
- The U.S. Mission has also supported capacity for developing the first air quality regulations in Uganda working alongside NEMA, KCCA, and AirQo. A good number of U.S. experts and universities have worked and will continue to collaborate with the Ugandan community on air quality research.
- On our website, we make available the data collected by the embassy’s high-precision air quality monitors. In the United States, we recognize the crucial role of providing real-time air quality information to the public, enabling them to take timely measures to safeguard their health on days with poor air quality, as well as to make informed choices about outdoor activities. We believe that sharing this data openly and transparently contributes to raising awareness about the importance of air quality and the impact of pollution on public health.
Our focus will remain on enhancing air quality monitoring and data management, increasing awareness of air quality issues, and supporting the implementation of air quality management plans in various African cities. We are confident that this will be the turning point for air quality management in Africa.
It gives me immense pleasure to launch the AirQo mobile application – the first of its kind in Africa – that provides the public with timely access to air quality information. It is gratifying to know that citizens in some cities in Ghana, Cameroon, Kenya, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Egypt, Burkina Faso, Senegal, and Uganda can now access real-time air quality data through the application.
This is a significant milestone towards helping us take appropriate action to minimize our exposure to air pollution and make individual contributions towards protecting our environment. In conclusion, I urge us to continue collaborating, sharing knowledge and skills to tackle air pollution.
Wishing you fruitful discussions and an evening of clean air!