By Sharon Atieno

Despite the increasing awareness of the importance of earth observation technologies as a tool to facilitate spatial data collection, access, and use in decision-making processes, Africa is yet to exploit the full potential of this spatial information.

This is according to Andre Nonguierma, Chief geospatial information management section, United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) during the fifth Regional Centre for Mapping Resources for Development (RCMRD) International Conference.

Andre Nonguierma at RIC2022

He noted that due to insufficient coordination, standardization and data quality assurance, limited institutional capacity, inadequate data management systems and weak spatial data infrastructure among others, the spatial data needed to support development requirements in the continent is often neither collected, nor compiled, nor disseminated in a timely manner.

Regardless, Nonguierma called on Africa to maximize the accessibility of spatial data and the use of geospatial information technologies in day-to-day running of government business processes and service delivery in order to give closer linkage between the geospatial products and societal needs.

Hamisi Williams, Assistant Country Representative-Kenya, Food and Agriculture organization (FAO) noted that sustainable development and economic growth in developing countries require the use of technologies such as geospatial and earth observation as key drivers and catalysts of change.

“These technologies cut across decision-making support, land and soil suitability and capability analysis, resource allocation, land use planning, revenue collection and early warning systems for mitigation of disasters and risks, identifying and monitoring natural resource use, and propose adequate information for policy related solutions,” he said.

Hamisi Williams at RCMRD international conference

David Kiama, Assistant Department of Resource Surveys and Remote Sensing (DRSRS), Office of the Kenyan President and Head of Ground Division said to achieve resilience against vulnerabilities such as floods and droughts experienced in Africa, planning and decision-making processes should adopt evidence-based planning which can be supported by earth observation and geospatial technologies.

Speaking on behalf of the Director DRSRS, Kiama noted that to be useful, the data collected from these technologies must be translated to information that helps to solve problems.

The theme of the RCMRD international conference which runs from 6th to 8th, September 2022 is Earth observation services for resilient social systems.

In line with the theme, Emmanuel Nkurunziza, Director General, RCMRD observed that technological advancements in various domains have become a crucial pillar in building resilient social systems.

He said that the conference’s theme continues to provide a linkage between social systems and the potential and unrealized opportunities brought about by earth observation technologies for societal benefits.