AfricaGIS 2013 & GSDI World Conference kicks off in Addis Ababa

AfricaGIS 2013 & GSDI World Conference kicks off in Addis Ababa

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Addis Ababa: Geospatial experts from different parts of the globe came together in the beautiful city of Addis Ababa to participate in the combined AfricaGIS 2013 and GSDI World Conference. Being organised jointly by EIS-Africa, the GSDI Association, the International Geospatial Society, the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) and Addis Ababa University, the conference is scheduled to take place at the UNECA conference centre during 4-8 November, 2013.

With its theme as ‘Spatial Enablement in Support of Economic Development and Poverty Reduction’, the conference aims to look at the ways and means to spatially enable government, industry and citizens and thus support overall economic development and poverty reduction in Africa.

Welcoming the attendees to the conference, Sives Govender, Director, EIS-Africa, said that the conference was an excellent learning opportunity. He said that Africa is faced with plenty of challenges such as providing means of livelihood to an ever growing population as well as managing its limited natural resources. He emphasised that geospatial technology is an ideal tool for overcoming most of these challenges. Dr David Coleman, President, GSDI Association, said that Africa should envision such a scenario where everyone can apply geospatial for better decision making.

Sultan Mohammed, Director General of the Ethiopian Mapping Agency reflected upon the tremendous work done by the agency over the years and said that the agency would continue to play a crucial role in the growth and development of Ethiopia.

H.E. Abraham Tekeste, State Minister for Finance and Economic Development, Ethiopia, said that the continent of Africa is faced with numerous challenges that hinder its speedy growth and development. He talked of coming up with a sustainable development strategy to overcome such challenges that require the use of innovative technologies such as geospatial technology.

H.E. Abdalla Hamdok, Deputy Executive Secretary, UN Economic Commission for Africa, in his keynote address emphasised on the need for organising such conferences to create awareness among people on the tremendous benefits of geospatial technology. “This conference will offer important inputs on how to leverage geospatial technology for the overall growth and development of the African continent,” he said. He further added that geospatial technology has been the driving force for many innovative applications in every vertical from agriculture to land use and natural resource management etc. However, he pointed out that the technology is still not being used up to its full potential and needs to be scaled up significantly in order to realise its full potential.

Jack Dangermond, President, Esri, in his keynote address, said that the world is in serious problems and GIS is already helping us to tackle some of the challenges facing us. He said that GIS was an integral part of Africa’s growth story as it is changing the way we think and act. He said that there was a need to imbibe geographic science into all of our activities. He also pointed out the tremendous benefits of Web GIS and said that it is a technology that will transform our world.
Professor Jacqueline McGlade was conferred with the GSDI Global Citizen Award for 2013 in recognition of the tremendous work done by her over the past decade.

Some of the technical sessions during the day included ‘SDI and Geospatial Enablement’, ‘Enabling Citizens’, ‘Enabling Government Decision Making’, ‘SDI Tools’, ‘Geospatial Research Reports: Vegetation, Soil & Mineral’, ‘Monitoring & Management’ and ‘Risk & Security’.

Source: Our Correspondent