By Sumaila Ogbaje
The Director-General, Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NiMet), Prof. Sani Mashi, says the agency is prepared to partner UBIMET, an Austrian based meteorological services provider, to improve weather forecast services in Nigeria.
Mashi disclosed this when the company’s team led by its Executive Assistant, Mr Christoph Neudhart, visited him in Abuja.
He said that NiMet was currently faced with a number of challenges, ranging from capacity deficit to inadequacy of density of network stations.
He said that NiMet currently had only 54 weather stations across the country to service the huge population and land mass, which he said were in inadequate.
According to NiMet boss, Nigeria is supposed to have not less than 9,000 weather stations but we currently have only 54 because of technical and capacity challenges.
“UBUMET is a leading provider of precise meteorological services and severe weather warning globally and we are ready to partner them especially in the area of technical support and capacity building.
“We can leverage on their experience to raise the capacity of our personnel so as to be able to make good use of weather information to address weather challenges in the country.
“Like I have always said, we are very much in deficit in terms of the requirement of the density of network station because we need thousands of them but we have less than a hundred now.
“There is need to provide thousands of them and then the challenges of providing them are enormous.
“Parts of the challenges are technical and this is related to capacity and UBIMET can help us in tackling some of these challenges.
“NiMet is currently in partnership with other international agencies like the UK Met Office in the area of capacity building but UBIMET may have other areas we can benefit from,” he said.
Mashi said that the agency had achieved a milestone in its forecast services over the years, adding that the recent downscaling of Seasonal Rainfall Prediction (SRP) for states was as another feat.
He said that Katsina State being the first to buy into the initiative had acknowledged the efficiency and accuracy of NiMet’s SRP.
He said that the state government has produced its report for 2016 with 100 per cent accuracy.
The leader of the team, Christoph Neudhart, said they were in NiMet to seek collaboration on how to broaden and enhance its capacity to provide more precise meteorological services.
Neudhart said that UBIMET, which is based in Vienna, Austria, had entered into partnership with many organisations and international agencies to help provide useful meteorological data.
He said that the company was in agreement with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), on agriculture and other areas.
Among the areas highlighted by Neudhart was what he called, “Weather cockpit” which includes rain radar and lighting detection as well as risk assessment and calculation.
“Actually, we want to collaborate because what we strongly believe is that you need to be the one who is on the ground to know what is happening in the climate services.
“What we want to do is to engage in a partnership in areas where we can discuss the possibilities of addressing what they are currently facing challenges or they want to improve.
“Also, how we can help them to increase their capacity to provide this alert system that can help complement their services and also increase the market for their service,” he said