Africa Preparatory Meeting for Global Geospatial Information Management opens in Addis Ababa

ECA Press Release No. 105/2011

Addis Ababa, 08 August 2011 (ECA) - The African Regional Preparatory meeting of the Global Geospatial Management Initiative opened today at the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa. The three-day meeting – being attended by experts from African countries and from international organizations – will assess the key challenges, opportunities and constraints relating to geospatial information management in Africa; develop a common vision, approach and contribution for the Africa region; and define an African broad plan of action for the initiative future activities.

In an opening address delivered on his behalf by Ms Jennifer Kargbo, the Deputy Executive Secretary of ECA; United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of ECA, Mr. Abdoulie Janneh; said the preparatory meeting was being held at an opportune moment given the rapid advances in technology and the potential for harnessing this information for the development of Africa.

“Geospatial information is effectively used in addressing many of the humanitarian, peace and security, environmental and development challenges facing the world, such as climate change, natural disasters, land demarcation and its management, food and economic crises and population displacement, which are of a cross-border nature requiring regional and national policy responses,” he said.

He added that ECA would continue assisting Member States to enhance the acquisition and use of geospatial information and in constructing appropriate spatial data infrastructure.

Mr. Janneh said that a global approach was necessary for managing geoinformation products and resources. African countries needed to strengthen their corporation in this area to come with a firm position and strong plan of action for developing the necessary infrastructure across the continent.

He said a high-level forum on managing global geospatial information will take place in Seoul, South Korea in October this year and “Africa should develop its own strategy to ensure an active participation in the process.” He urged the experts to identify the key challenges and opportunities of geospatial information in Africa and arrive at a viable plan for its development in the next decade.

The meeting earlier received three goodwill messages from United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, Mr. Sha Zukang; from Jide Kufoniyi, president of African Association of Remote Sensing of the Environment (AARSE); and from Derek Clarke, chairperson of CODIST_Geo.

In his goodwill message, Mr. Sha commended ECA as true pioneers in organizing the first preparatory meeting of any continent prior to the first global forum in Seoul. He said that “Over the last decade, new technologies have deeply transformed the availability and accessibility of geospatial information and its potential uses, both in the private sphere, as well as at the policy level. Solid geospatial information is crucial for both sustainable development and humanitarian assistance.”

He called on the meeting to reflect deeply on how to promote greater and wider use of geospatial information and concluded that “we look forward to clearly hearing Africa’s voice in the forthcoming global professional debate.”

In his goodwill message, the President of AARSE, Mr. Jide Kufoniyi, congratulated ECA for bringing experts together to determine a clear plan of action for Africa. He said AARSE was happy to partner with ECA in creating awareness of the benefits of developing and utilizing geoinformation for informed decision-making.

Mr. Derek Clarke also commended ECA for organizing the meeting and enabling experts from different fields that relate to geoinformation – including statisticians and cartographers – to work together and determine national and international institutional frameworks for geoinformation management.

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ECA Information and Communication Service
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Addis Ababa

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