Finnish firm Vaisala, that makes environmental and industrial measurement products has opened an office in Nairobi with an eye on the eastern and southern African markets.
The firm listed on the Nasdaq Helsinki stock exchange said it chose Nairobi as its Africa hub because of superior infrastructure, good connectivity and Kenya’s well established trade relationships with Finland.
Vaisala has been providing weather observation systems to the Jomo Kenyatta International (JKIA), Kisumu and Eldoret airports alongside other aviation authorities and meteorological offices in Africa.
“We are seeing an increase in demand for sophisticated weather services from a range of industries and government departments across Africa. The weather has a huge impact on the economic growth and national development plans, making it central to good economic planning,” said Vaisala chief executive Kjell Forsén.
Besides, he said, reliable and accurate weather observation system is a prerequisite for safe takeoff and landing of aircraft.
“Most of the major airports in the world rely on Vaisala’s technology. We have a long history in weather-related capacity building, renewing infrastructure and weather measuring systems,” said Mr Forsén.
The Nairobi hub will offer expanded environment and weather services, including air quality measurement instruments and services.
Air pollution has been a growing health problem around the world.
Last year, the World Health Organisation (WHO) reported that 92 per cent of the world’s population lives in areas where air quality levels are below WHO limits.
Mr Forsén said air pollution is affecting life in cities all over the world, but added that high growth, high-density cities in the developing world are most prone to disruption from weather and pollution.
“We’re seeing high levels of economic growth across eastern and southern Africa, which is driving urbanisation and new settlement. Weather and air quality measurement are critical elements in managing this development for quality of life and sustainability,” said Mr Forsén.
Climate observations and improved weather infrastructure are critical for the region’s agriculture and civil aviation sectors.