AfricaGIS 2017 conference closes in Addis Ababa

Delegates at the Conference

The four-day AfricaGIS 2017 conference closed in Addis Ababa today. The Conference that opened on November 20 to 24, 2017 featured keynote speeches by leading scholars, technical sessions with reports of the latest research outcomes as well as discussion sessions on topics such as capacity building, SDI, space policy, programmes and projects.

The keynote speakers included Oliver Chinganya the Director of the African Centre for Statistics at the Economic Commission for Africa; His Excellency Ato Getachew Adem, Deputy Commissioner of the National Planning Commission of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia; Hon. Dr. Ottichilo, Governor of Vihiga County in Kenya; Andre Nonguierma, UNECA; Lawrie Jordon, Esri; Dr. Tidiane Quattara, African Union Commission, GMESA coordinator.

Chinganya, reiterated the ECA’s strong commitment to support African countries in their quest to strengthen their geospatial and statistical information systems, and in advancing the results agenda through evidence-based policy formulation and management.
In a keynote address on driving Africa to become more spatially-enabled, Mr. Chinganya, who spoke on behalf of Executive Secretary, Vera Songwe, said the integration of geospatial and statistical information will benefit member States in the provision of services for the attainment of internationally and nationally agreed developmental goals.
“ECA will continue to use its convening power to enhance its dialogue with member States, African sciences and research institutions, private and other sectors, in order to increase awareness and ensure that geospatial science and technology permeates every aspect of our societies,” he said.
The Governor of Vihiga County in Kenya Dr. Ottichilo, a former Director General of RCMRD, made a key note address on how geospatial and statistical information is being used in his county to solve community problems.

Dr. Lee Annamalai – CSIR gave an overview of enabling blue economy using spatial information systems. This is art of the blue economy initiative in Africa. Africa has 38 coastal states, AU integrated maritime strategy 2050 (estimates $ 1 trillion/annum).

Lee talked about a technology used to track vessels in the sea as a way of curbing illegal fishing. In addition, he talked about the use of algorithms in remote sensing to monitor the quality of ocean e.g. algae etc.

David Kirugara of GMES talked about Geospatial information for the development of Africa's Blue Economy. Stephen Peedell (JRC) presented on marine spatial planning supporting the blue economy in Africa’s protected areas and Biodiversity and Protected Areas Management Programme (BIOPAMA) project (in collaboration with IUCN).
“The overarching outcome of this conference is to point to information gaps where emphasis should be placed, especially regarding the development of applications that meet the continent development agenda, the Africa we want,” said Mr. Chinganya.
For his part, Ethiopian State Minister and Deputy Commissioner of National Planning Commission, Getachew Adem, said the theme of the conference was befitting to the AU’s vision of an integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa driven by its own citizens.
“I do hope that this continental geospatial information conference will, among other things, provide insights on measures for promoting future development of geospatial application in Africa and support the strategic use of geographic information.”
The conference was attended by representatives from the world’s best geospatial companies, academics, experts and representatives from member States.
The results of the conference centred on the need for collaboration and partnerships at country and regional level; localisation of SDG’s and AU Agenda 2063; Using the platform to share experiences and challenges related to effective land administration as land is one critical resource on which Africa’s socio-economic development is anchored and therefore should be properly managed; Looking for local solutions to Africa’s land challenges using local experts and exploring synergies with research and training institutions.

RCMRD used this opportunity to build strategic partnerships from the conference in promoting the use of earth observation in Africa including SANSA, The Institute for Conscious Global Change (ICGC) and Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR).

The theme of the workshop was Geospatial and Statistical information imperatives for the ‘Africa We Want’. AfricaGIS 2017 was the premier conference and exhibition focusing on geo-information science and technologies in Africa. The principal objective of AfricaGIS 2017 was to provide a platform for geo-information professionals from Africa to learn about geo-information science and technology and its applications.

This conference provided a forum for geo-information professionals to meet, interact, and be updated on new developments, products and emerging trends and issues and had over 300 participants. The conference provided a unique opportunity for interaction among practitioners to share information and knowledge to advance the development and application of geo-information science and technologies to meet African developmental needs.