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Forum urges to educate people about geospatial tech

Nairobi, Kenya: The 6th Africa Geospatial Forum kicked-off in the Kenyan capital of Nairobi on Tuesday with experts converging at the venue from various parts of Africa to discuss the state of geospatial technology in the continent. The conference, to be held during September 6-8, was declared open by the honourable Minister of Lands Aggrey James Orengo.

Organised by Geospatial Media & Communications, the conference is an attempt to bring together people from the geospatial community in Africa on a common platform and discuss the various advancements going on in the field of geospatial technology in the region.

Delivering the opening remarks, Dr. Hussein O. Farah, Director General, RCMRD thanked the organisers for providing an ideal platform for the continent to meet its goal of economic development.

“The forum is an excellent opportunity for people from the geospatial industry to come together and discuss their common concerns. It is one of the ways to achieve our objective of using geospatial technology for economic development,” he said.

Taking the discussion further, Aida Opoku-Mensah, Director, ICTs and S&T Division, UN Economic Commission for Africa highlighted the significance of geospatial technology saying, “The need of the hour is to educate people about the significance of geospatial technology and encourage its maximum use. Keeping geospatial technology out of Africa’s development would be a big mistake.”

Subsequently, Minister of Lands James Orengo declared the conference open with a few words of encouragement for the participants.

“Kenya has come a long way and I believe that the Africa Geospatial Forum will highlight the role of geospatial technology in building better nations in the continent of Africa. In our attempt to achieve the goal of vision 2030, we have started using new technologies and geospatial technology is widely used,” he said.

Talk by James Orengo

Kenya’s Minister of Lands James Orengo has said that the country must look to adopt geospatial technology in each and every field to promote and sustain economic development. Addressing a gathering of surveyors and land management experts at the 6th Africa Geospatial Forum in Nairobi, Orengo said that geospatial technology is an extremely accurate and inexpensive technique that can help in the efficient management of resources.

“Kenya has come a long way in terms of good governance. But, we must also look towards employing geospatial technology in order to achieve our long term vision of overall growth and development,” he said.

Orengo informed that the Ministry of Lands has already started the process of computerization of land records in an attempt to offer better and improved services. He also said that Kenya has started the implementation of geospatial technology in various fields such as agriculture, tourism and education with the national bureau of statistics, forestry research institute and the Regional Centre for Mapping of Resources for Development (RCMRD) being some of the prominent institutes that make extensive use of the technology.

“Kenya government encourages the use of modern technology as it plays a significant role in various fields such as poverty alleviation, providing education, agriculture and tourism,” he noted.

Talking of the country’s ambitious Vision 2030 plan that aims to transform Kenya into a newly industrialized, middle-income country providing high quality of life to all its citizens by the year 2030 based on economic, social and political pillars, the minister said that geospatial technology is an extremely vital tool that can ensure the successful accomplishment of the country’s goals.

“Kenya has set its sight on achieving the goals as outlined in the Vision 2030 plan. Geospatial technology can go a long way towards the successful realisation of our targets and ambitions,” he said.

Africa Geospatial Excellence Awards
The conference was also an occasion to honour the organisations that have done exceedingly well in the field of implementation and use of geospatial technology. Below is a list of the various awardees.
1. Environmental Management award – Green Belt Movement
2. Utilities Management award – Ghana Sewerage & Water Co.
3. Social Development award – Map Kibera project
4. Contribution to space technology  – National Space research of Africa
5. Infrastructure development award – Rwanda Development Authority
6. Governance award – City of Johannesburg, South Africa
7. Land Management – Department of Surveys and Mapping, Botswana

Plenary Sessions
The awards ceremony was followed by plenary sessions where the participants got a chance to present their thoughts and highlight some of the latest innovations happening in the field of geospatial technology.

The session began with a presentation from Elias T. Ayuk, Director, United Nations University Institute for Natural Resources in Africa, which highlighted the role of academia in promoting geospatial knowledge and its applications. The presentation also looked into the major challenges facing geospatial technology and its implementation in the continent of Africa.

Subsequently, Chris Gibson, Vice President, Trimbal Navigation gave an informative presentation on enabling socio economic growth through innovation in geospatial. The presentation also delved into the need of building a sustainable geospatial industry.

Continuing with the issue of geospatial technology for socio-economic development, Ms. Aida Opoku-Mensah gave an in-depth analysis on the present status of geospatial technology and the way forward to promote its increased and creative use.

The session concluded with an interesting presentation from Ben Chikamai (Kenya Forestry Research Institute) that explained the role of geospatial technology in forest conservation. Citing examples from various forest areas in the country, the presentation showed how GIS and remote sensing are being used to detect the level of degradation of forest ecosystems in Kenya.

The second session saw presenters discuss various topics of interest such as the need for standards and the use of geospatial technology in land management.

The day concluded with a short panel discussion on the various challenges facing geospatial technology in the region and what needs to be done to get the decision makers’ support to enhance the collection of geospatial data.

Source: Our correspondent