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Dr. G.C. Mulaku, Dr. J.B.K. Kiema and D. N. Siriba
University of Nairobi
Department of Surveying
P. O. Box 30197-00100
Geospatial Data Infrastructure (GDI) is a concept that is a reality in most developed countries today. This concept is however only just beginning to take a foothold in most developing countries. This paper assesses Kenya’s preparedness for GDI take off by evaluating achievements made thus far in the basic components of GDI: data, technology, policies, institutional framework and people. It is observed that the relatively lukewarm political support and absence of a long-term strategic vision are serious constraints to GDI diffusion. Similarly, the lack of sustainable funding policies and strategies, coupled with the absence of a concise implementation strategy greatly undermine the development of GDI in Kenya. Most geospatial data sets are still in analogue form, are not regularly updated, and their consistency across organizations still needs to be verified. In addition, the absence of an active GIS professional organization greatly handicaps GDI development in Kenya. Nevertheless, despite this largely negative picture, the GDI status in Kenya compares well with those of most other African countries.
Geospatial Data Infrastructure (GDI) has been defined as the combination of technology, data, institutional arrangements and people that enables the discovery, evaluation and application of geospatial data for users from all sectors of the economy plus the general citizenry . Evidently, the provision of value added geospatial products and services in an efficient, and cost-effective manner is at the very core of the GDI initiative. The main benefits of GDI for any jurisdiction are that it improves planning and decision making, ensures consistent data sets, maximizes data producer’s return on investment and reduces waste in geospatial data management.
Different countries have adopted different strategies in the development of their National Geospatial Data Infrastructures (NGDI). Naturally, different countries have gone through different experiences and achieved different levels of success. Today, it can be generalized that most developed countries have developed GDIs with varying functional capabilities. On the other hand, most developing countries are still grappling with the challenge of establishing NGDI prototypes. Since the proper functioning of GDI, especially at both regional and global levels, presupposes the global coverage of working NGDIs across the entire globe, it is in their best interest that developed countries support GDI development in developing countries.
In this regard, it is important to evaluate the progress made thus far by most developing countries. This is important in order to understand both the current status of GDI development in the developing world, as well as to establish whether experiences gained in the developed world can be exported and domesticated to suit the conditions in developing countries. This paper assesses Kenya’s preparedness for GDI take off. This is realized by examining achievements made thus far in the basic components of GDI: data, technology, policies, institutional framework and people.
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