The Namibian Statistics Agency (NSA), together with Digital Globe and Hatfield Consultants, hosted the GIS-NSDI Forum under the theme “Unlocking the value of geospatial information in planning” from 26 to 27 July 2018. The main aim of the event was “to create national awareness of the value of geospatial information in national development planning and efforts made by the Namibian government to establish an infrastructure for geospatial information”.
The forum was officially opened by the Deputy Minister of Economic Planning, Honourable Pieter van der Walt. In his opening remarks, Honourable van der Walt stated that the aim of the Forum was to create awareness and appreciation of the value of geospatial information, in coordinating efforts to grow the economy, improve government efficiency and decision making. To this effect Vision 2030, NDP5 and the Harambe Prosperity Plan all have geographic and location components.
SASSCAL participated in the forum and had a well-attended exhibition booth at event. In addition, Sylvia Thompson presented “Meeting the Geospatial Needs for the Southern African Region” during the event. The presentation emphasised the contribution of SASSCAL to the GIS landscape and in particular, SASSCAL’s effort on providing free data sharing platforms, which is the responsibility of SASSCAL’s Open Access Data Centre (OADC). Sylvia also registered her concerns that despite the free availability of geoinformation products and services, complemented by related technological developments, many of them remain unexplored for providing regional solutions. The need to address the gap between science, research and decision making was also highlighted. After the presentation the participants during the question-and-answer session applauded SASSCAL for being visible in the region and transparent in its operations.
Participants could not resist enquiring about the SASSCAL 2.0 research call. The call will be announced soon through various media and the SASSCAL website.
The forum was attended by all key players in the Geospatial Industry in Namibia, and beyond, and raised some interesting discussion points on current technological trends, needs in capacity development, as well as underutilised technologies.
There is undeniable consensus among the speakers and the delegates on the potential of geoinformation technology in unlocking the value of geospatial data. The utilisation of geospatial information can facilitate and support the effective and sustainable implementation of programs that will enable the continent to achieve the MDGs (Millennium Development Goals) in the southern African countries.
The launching of the National Infrastructure Atlas was the highlight of the opening ceremony. The Atlas is the first pilot study at NSA which is aimed at revealing some spatial relationships existing between and among different mapped infrastructures. The Atlas uses very basic spatial analysis tools to calculate some basic spatial statistics that cannot be easily and accurately discerned from numerical statistics (Atlas foreword).
In her closing remarks, the Deputy Statistician General, Ottilie Mwazi reiterated that the forum’s aim was to create awareness and advocacy for NSDI (Namibia Spatial Data Infrastructure). The participants gained an insight on the current state of NSDI and its future plans. Ms Mwazi encouraged participants and stakeholders to play their part in the development and success of the NSDI in line with vision 2030. In conclusion Ms Mwazi emphasized the importance of data-driven decision making and the need for timely relevant spatial data dissemination.