African countries urged to embrace geospatial techs to promote development

ADDIS ABABA, Aug. 14 (Xinhua/GNA) – The UN
Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) has urged African countries to exert
concerted efforts to embrace advancements in the geospatial technologies sector
so as to realize Africa’s development agenda.

The urgent call was made by Oliver
Chinganya, Director of the African Centre for Statistics (ACS) at the ECA, who
stressed the ECA’s special emphasis to developments in the geospatial
technologies sector as a major driving force to Africa’s development
aspirations.

“The ECA views geospatial technology as
a significant component that will help push Africa’s transformative development
agenda even further,” an ECA statement quoted Chinganya as saying.

According to the ECA, even though Africa’s
current demographic trends, including rapid urbanization, represent major
economic opportunities, such demographic trends also “represent real
challenges with regard to human welfare and infrastructure needs.”  

“These issues affect citizens,
businesses and the community at large,” Chinganya said, adding
“efforts are being made by the ECA to support African countries to work
out strategies and policies to tackle the challenges in the various sectors of
development.”

The ECA also stressed that investments in
geospatial technologies are crucial as the continent encounters major
challenges, including climate change, disaster risk, food security, water
scarcity, energy shortage, health related problems, environmental stresses and
food crisis. Chinganya, who is also the Head of Technology, Climate Change and
Natural Resources Management Division at the ECA, further stressed that the ECA
“understands that it is imperative for every African country to deliver
relevant information that can promote and sustain economic growth.”

“It is therefore of greater importance
to have access to real time and precise spatial information, given Africa’s
size and complex biophysical environment, to support effective
decision-making,” Chinganya added.

The ECA also urged African countries and pan
African institutions to embrace geospatial technologies as key development
indicators are at risk of quickly becoming outdated and of limited value to
understanding the scale, speed and locations of newly developing urban areas
and informal settlements.

“It is therefore imperative for
information with a geospatial component to inform the continents sustainable
planning and development,” the ECA affirmed.

The ECA, however, commended improving trends
in Africa as African governments and other sectors of society “have become
increasingly aware of the importance of geospatial science and technology as a
tool to facilitate spatial data collection, access and use in the decision-making
processes, both nationally and regionally.”

According to the ECA’s specialized agency on
statistics, African Centre for Statistics (ACS), geospatial technologies are
“gradually becoming the driving force of many applications and services
from land administration to natural resource management to agriculture across
countries.”

Figures from ACS also revealed that African
countries such as Kenya, South Africa, Ghana, as well as Rwanda are among the
list of major African countries that have witnessed the benefits of geospatial
technologies and applications.

The ECA also called for “geospatial
data revolution” in Africa, which he said would require wider and easier
access to geospatial data, as well as accuracy and consistency of geospatial
data over its entire life cycle.

The ECA’s call towards the development of
geospatial technologies in Africa is also included in the global agenda for
Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which was adopted by the UN General
Assembly in September 2015, as well as Africa’s 50-year development Agenda
2063, which was approved by the African Union (AU) in January 2015.

Both the SDGs and the Agenda 2063 emphasize
the need for a global and continental coordination mechanism for geospatial
information management respectively.

The UN, which previously disclosed the
Geospatial Information for Sustainable Development in Africa initiative, had
also disclosed that the UN’s African action plan on geospatial information,
covering the period from 2016 to 2030, requires a total provisional budget of
154 million U.S. dollars.   

GNA

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