Geospatial information crucial for Africa’s economic development: ECA Director

9240619909 148c0ae1fd zThe Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) views geospatial technology as a significant component that will help push Africa’s transformative development agenda even further, said Oliver Chinganya, director of the Commission’s African Centre for Statistics (ACS)

In a keynote address at an event marking Digital Earth Africa Day, Chinganya said the ECA understands that every African country must deliver relevant information that can promote and sustain economic growth. He added that ECA will continue to work in partnership with organisations such as Digital Earth Africa to ensure nations develop their technical capacity.

“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. For instance, while Africa’s demographic trends, including rapid urbanisation, represent economic opportunities, they also represent real challenges concerning human welfare and infrastructure needs,” he added.

“Major development information and indicators are at risk of quickly becoming out-dated 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,” he noted.

He said it was great to see that 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.

“Supported by the emergence of a community of robust geospatial experts such as yourselves; geospatial technologies are gradually becoming the driving force of many applications and services from land administration to natural resource management to agriculture across countries like Kenya, South Africa, Ghana, and Rwanda, to mention just a few,” the director commented. 

 Chinganya, who is also officer in charge of the technology, climate change and natural resources management division at the ECA, added, “I believe that through Digital Earth Africa, Earth Observation can powerfully enhance the way we provide services to our community and I would like to take the opportunity to champion the use of space technology and information services to drive Africa to become more spatially enabled.”

He said the Digital Earth Africa programme can ensure that consistent methods and tools are appropriately appraised and made available in support to the member states at the national and regional level, in a coordinated and coherent manner.

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