Hyderabad, India: The session on national mapping initiatives in Africa, as a pre-conference programme of Geospatial World Forum 2011, hosted by GIS Development, was chaired by Prof. William Cartwright, got under way with Aida Opoku-Mensah, Director ICT & S&T Division UN Economic Commission for Africa informing the audience about her programmatic area “Harnessing information for development” that considers geoinformation as “development information” and assists member states to develop geospatial sciences and technology resources for priority regional initiatives and aims to make Africa more spatially enabled. Aida highlighted poor mapping coverage, lack of consistency in data production, absence of documentation on data building, retention of human capacities and financial mapping constraints as some of the key challenges and stressed on the need for technology savvy politicians for Africa.
Dr. Hussein Farah, Director General, Regional Centre for Mapping of Resources and Development (RCMRD) highlighted the role of the organisation mapping in East and Southern Africa region. Some of the current initiatives undertaken by RCMRD include modernisation of geodetic network, NSDI, land management information system, topographic digitisation, land reforms policies and automation of topographic and cadastral surveys. The challenges identified by him include coverage, maintenance and accessibility of data and the reasons for these challenges are outdated production networks, funding, institutional framework and human resource capacity. Dr. Derek Clarke, Chief Director – Surveys and Mapping, Department of Rural Development and Land Reform, South Africa informed about the new programme on land use and land cover mapping. He identified several challenges in surveying and mapping, including conflict between political agenda of rural development and mandate of NMOs, budgetary cuts hampering achieving user-demanded targets, recruitment of skilled professionals and technical staff, making up lost ground with SASDI (South Africa SDI), ground truthing / local knowledge with budget and staff limitation, user awareness and product distribution.
Initiatives in Ethiopia were shared by Sultan Mohammed, Director General, Ethiopian Mapping Agency. Sultan informed about the recently established primary GCPs (48 hour GPS observation). In surveying, the ongoing / planned initiatives include densification of existing geodetic network while in mapping, the initiatives include analogue to digital conversion of existing maps, updating of 1:50,000 scale maps, 1:100,000 scale land use / land cover mapping using satellite imagery, 1:25,000 and 1:10,000 scale topographic and orthophoto mapping of the country via aerial photo and ground survey and preparing the 3rd edition of national Atlas of Ethiopia. APC Njepuome, Surveyor General, Office of the Surveyor General of the Federation, Nigeria, observed that with Nigeria under military rule for 30 years out of 50 years of its existence, surveying and mapping for the country were completely neglected. However initiatives are on in this direction. Njepuome informed about establishment of GNSS stations and that about 70 percent of all topographic maps have been updated. He stressed on the need to convince political machinery to increase budgetary allocation for mapping which is one of the biggest challenges.
Dean Angelides, Corporate Director – International Operations, Esri, presented his views on enabling shared geographic knowledge. Talking about rapid advancement in GIS technology, he observed that GIS is changing the way we think, collaborate, communicate and work. According to him, many forces, including computing and networks, measurement, GIS software, geographic science and open data policies are converging to enable a pervasive geospatial platform. Dean opined that GIS is creating a complete platform for SDI and national government GIS’s are already being developed.
Source: Our Correspondent