UNU-INRA built capacity of 15 African professionals on Geospatial Technologies
The United Nations University Institute of Natural Resources(UNU-INRA), has built the capacity of 15 African professionals in Geospatial Technologies aimed at equipping them with concepts, functional skills, methods and techniques required for prescribing location specific solutions in addressing resource management challenges facing Africa today.
In all, 15 professionals from Ghana and Nigeria drawn from diverse backgrounds which include resource management and research, science students, soil science, electrical engineering, hydrogeology as well as the media partake in the 5-day intensive training course.
The participants were taken through GIS, Remote sensing, Global Positioning System(GPS), Georeferencing and Digitizing; a combination of hands-on exercise with fieldwork (practicals) backed by theory.
The training was conducted by Mr. Kwabena O. Asubonteng and Mr. Seyram Kofi Loh who are specialized instructors in GIS and remote sensing technologies at the institute.
According to Mr. Seyram Kofi Loh, the purpose of the training was to bring up to speed researchers as well as resource managers in Africa on application of GIS and remote sensing technology as data capturing and decision support tools geared towards effective research work.
The participants, made up of 14 Ghanaians and 1 Nigerian include David Wayne Butuacquah-Mensah (Electrical Engineer), Asabena Anokye Mensah (CEO, Anomena Ventures), Divine Ofori Ahadjie(student), Rich Kofituo (Research Assistant, IITA-Ghana), Efia Boakye Addo (Planning Assistant, Miro Forestry Ghana), Elorm Dzodzodzi(Student) and Joseph Kobla Wemakor (Editor-In-Chief, Ghananewsone.com).
The rest are Prof. Daniel Okae-Anti (Prof in Soil Science UCC), Adetona Adeyemi (Chief Engineer, National Water Resources Institute, Kaduna, Nigeria), Samuel Mensah Turkson (Miro Forestry Ghana Ltd.), Emmanuel Ayine Ayimpusah(student), Samson Renner (Hydrogeologist, Global Communities-Ghana), Daniel Agyei (student), and Jeffrey Sumsoh (Reseacher, Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical).
The participants were presented by certificates of participation at the end of the training which was executed by Dr Fatima Denton on behalf of UNU-INRA.
Addressing participants at a short ceremony prior to the presentation of the certificates, Dr. Fatima Denton, Director of UNU-INRA implore the participants to make judicious use of the knowledge gained to their own benefit and that of the nation.
She charges them to always ensure to network with the institute with the response on how useful the knowledge gained has improved them in their fields of works to inform its decision if there’s the need to improve upon the training program to fit other stakeholders.
According to her, the GIS technology forms key part of the institute’s agenda owing to its relevance in collecting, analyzing and monitoring of data for that matter chosen as a flagship training program to augment better conservation and harnessing of the Africa’s natural resources.
Speaking in an interview with Ghananewsone.com, Dr. Fatima Denton appealed to governments of all African countries to endeavor to invest in Geographic Information System(GIS) including other Geospatial technologies and be fully committed to building capacity of their officials and stakeholders in order to help detect and insulate their countries from potential natural disasters.
For his part, GIS Course Coordinator of UNU-INRA, Mr. Kwabena O. Asubonteng observed that the GIS technology is a powerful tool which is capable of shaping Ghana’s economy in diverse ways if judiciously applied to work by all Ghanaians.
He bemoaned most Ghanaians who are in possession of the knowledge have failed woefully in its application to work, but rather resorted to conducting only “administrative work” instead of harnessing the power of the GIS technology in decision making.
“The other side of the problem is that some institutions have it and over the years trying to build up solid data to be applied in such systems but have also always been a challenge and we cannot run away from the benefits of the system”, he posited.
For him, the only way through which Ghana can enjoy the full benefit of technology is when it builds a national spatial infrastructure to harmonize all data and manage its institutions, so that for example, the Ghana Water Company Ltd., ECG, GRA and the Forestry Commission among others can easily have access to data to inform policy making.
“Elsewhere all these mini systems are integrated at a central point where security people can use but everybody has a clearance level, so you cannot run away from data”, he explained.
Some participants who interacted with the media on the sideline of the 5-day program expressed satisfaction, fulfilment and eagerness to face their works with hope knowing very well they have been immersed in knowledge.
Professor Daniel Okae Anti, a participant and a lecturer in soil science department at the University of Cape Coast(UCC) maintained that as someone who uses geostatistical tools a lot in finding the variation of soil resources such as nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium among others, discovered that GIS technology and his field of work are related hence the motivation to undergo the course.
When asked about his overall assessment of the program, he said: It’s been useful 5-day program, however tight it is, I think we’ve managed to go through and I remarked that I really liked the combination of the theory and the hands-on exercises. And another impression is that looking at the background of the participants, I’ve also come to appreciate that GIS and remote sensing is not limited to only science biased people but all fields.” He furthered: “I mean those into humanities collecting data by questionnaires or what not, you could still pick up the questionnaire and find or attach a location to where you pick the sources so it’s an open material for all fields which is the most important thing.
UNU-INRA is one of the 15 Research and Training Centres/Programmes of the United Nations University(UNU). The aim of the Institute is to bridge the gap between science and natural resources management policies in Africa. Its mandate is to contribute to the sustainable development of Africa’s natural resources in a way that maintains the quality of the natural environment and transforms lives.