Africa GIS International Conference

The Africa GIS International Conference is held every two years to discuss problems with and applications of GIS across the African continent. The conferences in 2005 and 2007 were held in South Africa and Burkina Faso respectively, while this year’s conference was held in October in Kampala, Uganda. The conference deals with identifying the limitations of Africa’s current geo-information technologies and systems and its goal is to discuss possible solutions and set up relationships between individuals and organizations collecting data throughout the continent. The conference is a place for geo-information specialists to gather and share new developments, as well as to find others who would be interested in contributing to new projects. It also provides a forum for data and ideas to be shared, and for pressing issues to be brought to attention.

The problems facing Africa today numerous and complex, and every two years the conference draws up a list of themes to focus on and invites people to present papers and projects in those fields. This allows the conference to focus on problems that are unique to the continent, and create geo-information systems and datasets that are specifically suited to these problems. The themes for this year’s conference were climate change, natural resource management, challenges created by urbanization and the business aspect of creating and storing data in Africa. From these themes we can see that the difficulties are all related to development. The countries themselves are still developing and coping with impacts on their environment and natural resources, as well coping with the emergent infrastructure that is lagging behind the rapid development or urban centers and the rapid rise in population. GIS can be used to monitor these changes and to analyze them to be better prepared to respond to them, but a lack of infrastructure will limit their data collection and distribution, as well as storage and analysis. Since the first conference in 2005, Spatial Data Infrastructure has been an important topic, and part of Africa GIS’ goals is to bring people together who can created this infrastructure, share information and communicate with outside sources who could provide data to fill in the gaps, such as high quality satellite imagery.

The challenges of a developing nation can be overwhelming, and these conferences may be placing a lot of hope in Geographic Information Science to resolve these issues, but since a recently developed technology is being applied to a situation where nothing of the sort has previously been attempted, it can be done right the first time instead of having to correct datasets and procedures that were begun decades ago. This is a chance to create a community of geo-information specialists in Africa where data and ideas are shared to bring new developments and advances to this system as soon as they arise. Hopefully this conference can facilitate the sharing of information and the creation of a standard for GIScience in Africa, and can be used to find new approaches to the problems at hand.

Thanks to VB, Intro GIS

One Response to “Africa GIS International Conference”

  1. John Mack says:

    Is there a chapter or contact person(s) for the African GIS Society in Nigeria?