United Nations Economic Commission for Africa - Africa Preparatory Meeting on Global Geospatial Information Management

8 – 10 August, 2011, Addis Ababa, Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia

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Delegates to the GGIM Africa Preparatory Meeting in front of the United Nations Conference Centre, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia


United Nations Economic and Social Council made history on 27th July 2011 in Geneva by establishing a new intergovernmental body, the United Nations Committee on Global Geospatial Information Management, to bring together, for the first time at the global level, government experts from all member states to consult on the rapidly changing field of geospatial or location information. The global surveying community must recognize the role of the United Nations in recognizing the urgent need for actions to promote and strengthen international cooperation in the area of global geospatial information.

The global surveying community must also take cognizance that global and regional forums are been convene as a result of this historic decision will promote comprehensive dialogues with all relevant actors and bodies emphasizing the importance of promoting national, regional and global efforts to foster the exchange of knowledge and expertise as well as to assist developing countries in building and strengthening national capacities in this field.

FIG welcomes this United Nations decision, intends to contribute towards this global mechanism to foster location-based and geospatial information, applications and services, aim at extending the benefits of location or geospatial information for the betterment of society, environment and economy.

The United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UN-ECA) has taken the role to lead the initiative in Africa, so as to ensure that GGIM adequately reflects African issues and shape its direction and dimension to reflect Africa’s interest. The Commission convened the GGIM Africa Preparatory Meeting to consult member states in Africa with a view to develop the continent’s needs, prospects and vision for an overall Geoinformation Governance in Africa.

UN-ECA Africa Preparatory Meeting on GGIM

The main aim of the meeting was to establish a clear plan of action towards an active participation of African governmental officials and stakeholders in the GGIM initiative. The formal objectives were:

  • To assess the key challenges, opportunities and constraints relating to geospatial information management in Africa;
  • To develop a common vision, approach and contribution for the Africa region;
  • To define an African broad plan of action for the initiative future activities; and
  • To prepare African governmental officials and stakeholders to the GGIM initiative.

The Africa Preparatory Meeting was convened with an overarching consideration of geospatial information governance and to recommend any action that may be required to guide member states in achieving a better coordination mechanism for geospatial information management.

Deputy Executive Secretary, Ms Jennifer Kargbo, on behalf of the United Nations Under Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of Economic Commission for Africa, Mr. Abdoulie Janneh officiated the opening of the three-day Preparatory Meeting with Ms Aida Opoku-Mensah, Director of ICT Science and Technology Division, the Convenor of the meeting in attendance.

The three-day meeting was chaired by Dr. Derek Clarke of South Africa was attended by delegates from the following African member States:

Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Republic of Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guinea, Kenya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Seychelles, South Africa, Swaziland, Togo, Uganda, Zambia.

Also in attendance were resource persons, observers and exhibitors from the African Association of Remote Sensing of the Environment, AARSE (South Africa); AfricaScope (South Africa); Centre d'Etudes, de Recherche et de Production en Information pour l'Environnement et le Développement Durable, CERPINEDD (Burkina Faso); Environmental Information Systems in Africa, EIS-AFRICA (South Africa); GEODE Consult (France); Ordnance Survey (UK); Regional Centre for Training in Aerospace Surveys, RECTAS (Nigeria); Regional Centre for Mapping of Resources for Development, RCMRD (Kenya); Southern and Eastern African Mineral Centre, SEAMIC (Tanzania), as well as the African Union Commission, UNDP, UNDESA and UNECA and FIG.

More than 61 delegates attended this meeting. The President of FIG made a presentation at the meeting on capacity building and knowledge transfer and stressed that there are three important aspects –

  • capacity is not of a passive state but is part of a continuing process;
  • ensures that human resources and the way in which they are utilized are central to capacity development; and
  • requires that the overall context within which organizations undertake their functions will also be a key consideration in strategies for capacity development.

He promoted FIG’s view that capacity development is a concept that is broader than institutional development since it includes an emphasis on the overall system, environment and context within which individuals, organizations and societies operate and interact. He also mentioned that knowledge transfer need not be one-way but recognize that knowledge creation is not the sole domain of any one actor in a system and hence knowledge transfer can be two-way.

He highlighted current FIG initiatives and activities with the aim to explore opportunities and possibilities to collaborate with UN-ECA to further attain the aim and object of GGIM and extend the value and usefulness of GI for the benefit of all. He drew the attention of the meeting to the various task forces within FIG especially the FIG Task Force for Africa and its ongoing activities in Africa that aim to contribute towards poverty alleviation, economic growth, and environmental sustainability.

Outcome of the Africa Preparatory Meeting

The meeting concluded with the adoption and issuance of the “Addis Ababa Declaration on Geospatial Information Management”, an African Action Plan on Geospatial Information Management that is broad and took into account –

Policy and Governance

  • Strengthening national policies and strategies to develop and implement SDI/GIM.
  • Promoting the establishment of legislative frameworks.
  • Facilitating the establishment of an all-inclusive national committee to coordinate GI.
  • Promote sustainable funding mechanisms for NSDI.
  • Initiating an outreach campaign to politicians and other high level decision-makers.
  • Promote the closer institutional relationships between the National Statistics Office and the National Mapping Agency.
  • Promote data sharing policies, recognizing Intellectual Property (IP) and copyright issues.

Common Framework and Tools

  • Support the operationalisation of the African Reference Frame (AFREF) to provide a common spatial reference frame across Africa.
  • Support the Mapping Africa for Africa (MAfA) initiative
  • Support the development and implementation of geospatial information standards
  • Interoperable systems
  • Open access
  • Compiling best practise
  • Encourage Private Public Partnerships (PPPs).
  • Sensitise NMAs and NSOs around appropriate technological advancements

Capacity Building and Knowledge Transfer

  • Institutional reforms and strengthening.
  • Develop a clear capacity building strategy at all levels to build an enabling environment including capacity among users to fully utilise geospatial information
  • Build upon existing efforts, structures, institutions and institutional arrangements espe¬cially when there is an absence of political support or legislation.
  • Formulation of a holistic capacity development strategy looking beyond training and skills development. The strategy should address all levels of capacity (individual, organisational, and enabling environment), as well as core issues including knowledge, leadership in GI, institutional arrangements, and accountability mechanisms that ensures engagement with all stakeholders to capture and utilize their feedback as well as the collective capacities (knowledge, ways of working, and means) to make GI more demand-driven and service-oriented.

International Coordination and Cooperation in meeting Global Needs

  • Encourage cooperation to ensure mutually beneficial partnerships.
  • Provision of geospatial information focusing on Africa’s priority socio- economic development needs (MDGs):
  • Support access to appropriate imagery to support the development of fundamental geospatial datasets.

CheeHai TEO
12 August 2011

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GGIM Africa Preparatory Meeting in session chaired by Dr. Derek Clarke (South Africa), Andre Bassole (CERPINEDD) as the Rapporteur, officiated by Ms Aida Opoku-Mensah and facilitated by Mr Makane Faye (UN-ECA)

15 August 2011