RCMRD is celebrating Africa Day 2020, highlighting the contribution that Africa's geospatial services that contribute to the continent's development as well as highlighting the ideas, resources and insights available on the RCMRD website thanks to the work of our 20 African member States. 57 years ago, the Organisation for African Unity – the forerunner of today’s African Union – was created, marking a new drive to promote peace, integration and a truly African approach to the continent’s future. This desire to work together to find ways forwards that truly reflect the strengths and needs of Africa is as strong as ever today. Africa Day is celebrated every year on May 25 to commemorate the founding of the Organisation of African Unity (African Union). Africa Day is intended to celebrate and acknowledge African solidarity, unity in diversity, creativity, challenges and successes. It also celebrates the cultural and economic potential of our continent.
It is a special day for RCMRD that was previously known as Regional Centre for Services in Surveying, Mapping and Remote Sensing (RCSSMRS) was established in Nairobi in 1975 under the auspices of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa and the then Organization of African Unity (OAU). Pioneered by Uganda, Kenya, Somalia, Tanzania and Malawi, RCMRD currently has 20 contracting Member States in the Eastern and Southern African Regions, including Botswana, Burundi, Comoros, Eswatini, Ethiopia, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Mauritius, Namibia, Rwanda, Seychelles, Somali, South Africa, South Sudan, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe. The non-profit inter-governmental organisation supports member States specifically in development of the geospatial and earth observation capabilities. It renders services in the fields of surveying and mapping including remote sensing, calibration and maintenance of surveying and mapping equipment. The Centre also provides training for nationals of member States in the above fields of expertise.
Africa Day is intended to celebrate and acknowledge the successes of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU now the AU) from its creation on May 25, 1963, in the fight against colonialism and apartheid, as well as the progress that Africa has made while reflecting upon the common challenges that the continent faces in a global environment. This year’s celebrations happened virtually and online due to the massive impact of COVID-19 on the continent and the world under the theme: SilencingTheGuns: Creating Conducive Conditions for Africa’s Development and Intensifying the Fight against the COVID-19 Pandemic. The theme stemmed from commitments made in the 50th Anniversary Solemn Declaration, adopted by the 21st ordinary session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government the African Union, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on May 26, 2013. African leaders stated: “We pledge not to bequeath the burden of conflicts to the next generation of Africans and undertake to end all wars in Africa by 2020.”
This year’s theme for Agenda 2063 is Silencing the guns, a plan that aims to end all wars, civil conflicts, gender-based violence, violent conflicts and preventing genocide. ‘Silencing the Guns by 2020’ is one of the 15 “Flagship Projects of Agenda 2063” of the African Union. Africa Day is an opportunity for us to reconnect and recommit ourselves in support of all government interventions to develop a united Africa and a better world. The day gives us a chance to reflect on the progress that Africa has made, while also coming together to find solutions to the challenges that we face on the continent.
History will forever remember 2020 as the year of the COVID-19 pandemic. Although it has had an unprecedented impact on societies across the globe and has in many ways altered life as we know it, the pandemic has provided African nationals and governments and our partners across Africa and globally with opportunities to be innovative, effect change and contribute through research and collaboration towards what has become known as the “new normal". As we celebrate Africa Day amid the devastating impact of a pandemic, let us focus on how we as a continent can unite in finding solutions that serve the unique challenges of Africa and make a contribution to our beloved continent's sustainability and to society at large. Covid-19 has enabled us to demonstrate our ability to shift from our tendency to be pre-occupied with the pursuit of personal success to rally together with empathy and compassion to collaborate in response to this existential crisis. This change in behavior towards what really matters for humanity and ecosystem survival is a critical success factor in our response to Covid-19.
African countries have “demonstrated commendable leadership” battling the COVID-19 pandemic, but more nations across the continent where conflict prevails, should heed the UN call for a global ceasefire to push back the deadly virus, said the Secretary-General on Monday May 25, 2020. Marking Africa Day, António Guterres said in his message that the pandemic “threatens to derail progress” which would enable countries to reach the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and development targets set out in the African Union’s (AU) Agenda 2063.