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Geospatial data for development agendas takes centrestage at first Africa Geospatial Data and Internet Conference

The first Africa Geospatial Data and Internet Conference (AGDIC) concluded successfully in Accra on 24 October, bringing together about 1200 participants from all over the world. The conference firmly emphasized the need for geospatial data adoption for successful implementation of various development programs and to solve Africa’s complex problems. The conference also facilitated much needed exchange of dialogue between various data stakeholders.       

Under the theme “Shaping Africa’s digital future,” the three-day conference hosted a thought leadership Opening Ceremony, plenary sessions on Internet governance, geospatial for development agendas, the Next Frontier technologies; sessions on geospatial technology and its application in sectors such as agriculture, mining, urban planning, water & sanitation, natural resources; and several training workshops on machine learning, IOT and AI, cloud computing. Several sessions focused on geospatial ICTs and related technologies including LiDAR, surveying, mapping, drones and more. A two-day hackathon on satellite data for agriculture and related applications was organized and sponsored by the Agence Francise De development (AFD).

Successful technology adoption for societal benefits calls for inclusiveness of diverse stakeholders; understanding this, the conference hosted dedicated sessions on two very important groups – the Youth and Women. These respective forums brought out important points on these groups’ engagement with technology.

The conference also held an exhibition where exhibitors showcased latest geospatial technology with application to different sector and industries.

Speaking at the opening of ceremony of the conference, the Director General of the Ghana’s National Development Planning Commission (NDPC), Dr Kodjo Essiem Mensah-Abrampa gave the welcome address and called on African government invest in the geospatial technology as it is a key driver to adoption of technology in the future. The keynote speakers at the opening ceremony were the Regional Representative of the United Nations FAO, Abebe Haile-Gabriel; the Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, Hon Kwaku Asomah Kyeremeh, the United States Ambassador to Ghana, Stephanie S. Sullivan; USAID West Africa Regional Mission Director, Daniel Moore; Project Manager SERVIR Head – Global Earth Monitoring Network, NASA, Daniel Irwin; Chairman of Ghana Dot Com Prof. Nii Quaynor; Executive Director of GODAN, Andre Laperriere; Vice President of Geospatial Media and Communications, Prashant Joshi.

KEY TAKEAWAYS

  • Spatial data is critical to driving economic growth. We need to speak the language decision makers understand. Geospatial data and context essential, part of critical success of cities and nations. Mapping is everywhere
  • People should drive the data and not the other way round
  • There is a need for demand-driven solutions to ensure that data and science meet user needs
  • Capacity development is essential. High cost of Internet access can be addressed through competition among service providers and by removing barriers like multiple taxation
  • Need to address the gap between the collected satellite data and the informed decisions its meant to support
  • Much data is available, but there needs to be more engagement between data producers and users so that what is being made available is responsive to the  needs
  • Government should play a coordinating role of actors in the data ecosystems and development partners need to work together with government to strengthen capacity
  • Open data can democratize knowledge, it is more than the sum of its parts. Key is – data for people, innovation, and fairness
  • Maps, models, markets, geospatial satellite data, crops, tools: these are part of future jobs and can improve food security