For many of us Spatial Data Infrastructures represent the roads we are using in our work. What is the current standing on Spatial data Infrastructure in East Africa? Mr William Kalande and Mr. Ondulo Joe-Duncan in 2006 presented a paper with the title “Geoinformation Policy in East Africa” at the XXIII FIG Congress held in Munich, Germany in October 8-13 2006. In this article they give us a walk trough of the issues regarding geoinformation and policy/legislation in Uganda, Tanzania and Kenya. The paper is well worth reading. This web-article presents some highlights from the paper for your convenience.
In the summary of their article Kalande and Ondulo have this to say:
Triggered by global trends, economic and political reasons, the republics of Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda signed the East African Cooperation treaty in 1999 thus bringing the East African Community into being. This has led to considerable increase in demand for cross border Geoinformation (GI) exchange in the regional block.
Infrastructure (Railway and road network, airports and coastal ports), Natural resources (Lake Victoria, tourists sites), telecommunication (common mobile providers and subscribers), Institutions (hospitals, banks, schools and colleges) just to mention a few, are now legally and commonly shared by the citizens of the 3 member states.
Coping with this increased demand for cross border geoinformation amid the numerous challenges in the effective generation, management and use of GI in decision making in the region dictates that GI policies for the candidate member countries be harmonized to agreed standards before integration. Questions then arise; do these countries on individual basis have Geoinformation policy in place? Where not in existence, what efforts are being made and at what level? Are there any efforts in coming up with a regional policy? The paper highlights the current status of GI policy in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania, the efforts and possibilities in coming up with a regional GI policy.
The following table provides an overview of the central findings in the paper.
Table from Kalande & Undolu (2006) showing central findings.
According to Kalande & Ondulo the story on an SDI in Tanzania is that the Tanzania National Spatial Data Infrastructure steering committee at time of publishing the article did not have enough funding to do their work. In the meantime several initiatives are on the rise. Some governmental and some funded by NGO’s. The only mention of biodiversity data in the paper is of Wildlife Conservation Society Tanzania having an: “[..] enormous amount of data [..]”. It should here be mentioned that both individuals/groups of researchers and bodies like TAWIRI, TAFORI etc… have a lot of data available. Some of it published through reports and papers, some of it available upon request. But at this point the authors might have fallen prey off the issues they are pointing towards – namely inadequate national resources with regards to Spatial Data Infrastructure. How would one be able to find resources for SDI if it were not for TZGISUG mailing list, contacts and other seemingly random resources?
The article points towards harmonization of the regulations of SDI in the East African Countries.
All in all the article does a good job in enlightening us on the SDI issues in East Africa. This article is a must-read if you are interested in SDI in Tanzania.
Read more of the article by dowloading the article in PDF format from the www.fig.net:
Almost ten years down the line we are not much wiser. The many fragmented initiatives remain so – fragmented and insufficient in their structures and extent. I am hoping to see things move forward – at least within the management of environmental information. As this is written I am about to travel to Tanzania to contribute to a workshop arranged together with NEMC where the theme will be how the different stakeholders can agree on data sharing.
(This paper review was published in the TZGISUG website some years ago. Since then the website has changed profile and I found it more relevant to pull this article back to my own website. Some changes has been made since its first publication.)