Tuesday, September 18, 2012

African Media Get to Grips with Geospatial Science

Addis Ababa, 18 September 2012  (ECA) - Media professionals endorsed today, the establishment of the African Forum for Geospatial Information systems. The conclusion followed two days of training aimed at improving the quality of geoinformation, Geospatial Science and Technology reporting and the impact of this area of work on the livelihood of African citizens,

The first of its kind, the two-day training of trainers was organized by the ICT, Science and Technology Division of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA). Participants hailed from western, southern and eastern of Africa.

Speaking at the opening session of the training workshop, Aida Opoku-Mensah, Director of the ICT, Science and Technology Division said that geospatial technology, or geomatics used the measurement, analysis and visualization of spatial features or phenomenon.

"As a tool, geomatics is enormously important for decision-makers across a wide range of disciplines, industries and sectors," she said and added: "The tool is radically changing the way information is used for development planning."

"What Journalists in Africa need to understand is how geospatial technology supports the management of Africa's development, said Ms Opoku-Mensah. For instance, in the mining sector, resources on the earth's surface require sophisticated technology to discover, extract, and manage and since mining is inherently spatial, requiring accurate knowledge of areas of the earth's surface and subsurface, geospatial technology is best suited to oversee all phases of mining operations", she emphasized.

Similarly, projects such as roads and waterways require geospatial technologies for planning, construction and implementation", she added and noted that unfortunately, the geo-information sector is not effectively communicating with the general public, leading to low uptake of geospatial science and technology sector in Africa and its contribution to Africa's development. As such, said Ms. Opoku-Mensah, the engagement of media professionals and researchers become vital to overcome this communication gap.

Mr. Mekonnen Teshome, President of the Ethiopian Association of Science Journalists (EASJ) said that the organization of this training workshop "comes at the right time when we African Journalists are well organized and seeking for better information on science and technology."

He underlined that the workshop will "greatly add to media professional career development." He also noted that a better understanding of geospatial technologies would assist with effective reporting on the subject.

Mr. Kwami Ahiabenu, Director of Penplusbytes and chair of the meeting said that all over Africa, technology is playing an important role in transforming life, society and economy of its nations. He underscored that Geospatial Information Systems (GIS) are becoming important tools for effective and efficient strategic planning and decision-making processes at all levels, ensuring development and growth is a reality for all citizens.

He emphasized that awareness creation and advocacy about GIS success stories and its huge potential in the near future becomes very urgent and “we are excited that UNECA is taking a bold step to provide skills and knowledge needed by journalists in Africa in order for them to perform this important function.

Mr. Sultan Mohammed, Director-General, Ethiopian Mapping Agency (EMA) in his keynote speech emphasized that only societies using information efficiently and wisely will succeed in their development endeavors. He noted that more than 80% of all the data and information generated and disseminated nowadays is location based information involving geospatial information.

He underscored that Location based Geospatial information services, which are a coalescence of fields such as surveying, mapping and remote sensing, have matured and become key contributors to evidenced based policy making processes. They can be used to understand and integrate social, economic, and environmental perspectives at specific locations at local, regional and global scales.

He concluded that the workshop is timely and will enhance the capacity of the media in promoting Geospatial Information advocacy and awareness in the Continent.

A number of recommendations were adopted to promote Geospatial science journalisms for sustainable development. The African Media Forum for Geospatial Science and Technology was formed and members were required to promote the creation of National Geospatial Science Journalists Association in their respective countries.

International Institute for ICT Journalism

Thursday, September 06, 2012

Highway Africa 2012 - Africa Rising; and the Arab Spring

The 16th edition of Highway Africa will feature an amazing array of activities from talks by distinguished speakers, training workshops, book launches and networking opportunities.

Along with the 2012 conference theme: Africa Rising? How the Media Frame the Continent's Geopolitics, Trade and Economic Growth, is a series of seminars that will examine the emergence of the BRICS countries and the effect this has had on African media.  

Head of Research Unit for Media in the South and Rhodes University professor Herman Wasserman will convene the seminar series entitled 'The Rise of the Rest': Journalism in the BRICS Countries.

Delegates will flesh out questions about the role the media can play in developing economies and the benefits journalism can gain from BRICS partnerships.

The perceived rise of Africa comes at a time of increased internet usage on the continent.  Highway Africa sponsors Telkom and MTN will present on broadband usage in Africa.

The HA director Chris Kabwato said that broadband technology will play a vital role in the future of the African continent. "We need to look at how these technologies are going to transform African economies and stimulate innovation," Kabwato said.    

Another sub-theme for this year's conference is what we can learn from the Arab Spring. Rhodes University Media Studies scholar, Admire Mare will lead a discussion on Political Rising – Technology and Social Change - Lessons from the North on the lessons learnt from the uprisings.

About Highway Africa


The Highway Africa Centre is a programme of the School of Journalism at Rhodes University. The Highway Africa Conference is the flagship event of Rhodes University and since its launch in 1997, it has grown to become the largest annual gathering of African journalists on the continent. The focus of Highway Africa is on the impact of the internet and mobile technologies on journalism and the media.


Media Inquiries: Ms Anele Ngwenya, Mobile: 0844051589

E-mail: a.ngwenya@ru.ac.za

Website: http://highwayafrica.com


International Institute for ICT Journalism