Addis Ababa, Ethiopia: ICT, Science and Technology Division of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) organised the two-day conference, African Forum for Geospatial Information systems, in Addis Ababa. The conference deliberated on ways to improve the quality of geoinformation, geospatial science and technology reporting and the impact of this area of work on the livelihood of African citizens.
Speaking at the opening session, Aida Opoku-Mensah, Director of the ICT, Science and Technology Division said that geospatial technology, or geomatics used the measurement, analysis and visualization of spatial features or phenomenon.
“As a tool, geomatics is enormously important for decision-makers across a wide range of disciplines, industries and sectors. The tool is radically changing the way information is used for development planning,” she added.
“What Journalists in Africa need to understand is how geospatial technology supports the management of Africa’s development”, said Opoku-Mensah. For instance, in the mining sector, resources on the earth’s surface require sophisticated technology to discover, extract, and manage and since mining is inherently spatial, requiring accurate knowledge of areas of the earth’s surface and subsurface, geospatial technology is best suited to oversee all phases of mining operations, she emphasized.
“Similarly, projects such as roads and waterways require geospatial technologies for planning, construction and implementation”, she added and noted that unfortunately, the geo-information sector is not effectively communicating with the general public, leading to low uptake of geospatial science and technology sector in Africa and its contribution to Africa’s development. As such, said Opoku-Mensah, the engagement of media professionals and researchers has become vital to overcome this communication gap.
Mekonnen Teshome, President of the Ethiopian Association of Science Journalists (EASJ) said that the organization of this training workshop “comes at the right time when we African Journalists are well organized and seeking for better information on science and technology.”
Kwami Ahiabenu, Director of Penplusbytes and chair of the meeting said that all over Africa, technology is playing an important role in transforming life, society and economy of its nations. He underscored that GIS is becoming an important tool for effective and efficient strategic planning and decision-making processes at all levels, ensuring development and growth is a reality for all citizens.
A number of recommendations were adopted to promote geospatial science journalisms for sustainable development. The African Media Forum for Geospatial Science and Technology was formed and members were required to promote the creation of National Geospatial Science Journalists Association in their respective countries.