Esri’s President, Jack Dangermond extended Esri’s support to enhance the use of geographic information systems (GIS) through its Education Foundation and Non-profit efforts to African countries. To make this possible, the African Scientific Institute (ASI) developed a working relationship with Esri to provide the avenues, linkages, collaborations, and mechanisms to start train-the-trainers programs in some select institutions in Africa.
Esri is the foremost provider of ArcGIS software worldwide and ASI is in a position, through its network of ASI Fellows as well as established relationships with institutions all over Africa and African diaspora, to make this effort successful. The primary objective is to facilitate opportunities where institutions in Africa can have not only sustained access to the software, but with trained local expertise to use the technology in making informed decisions. The ultimate goal would be that of capacity building which would be sustained through time. Esri and ASI are committed to these goals.
ASI communicated with a few institutions and government establishments in Nigeria and a few from Ghana in the initial phases of the project. ASI currently has Memorandum of Understanding with some institutions in Africa which will make the working relationship very smooth.
As recent as in July, 2013, ASI was prepared to hold its Seminar in Nigeria in November 19 & 20, 2013, where ten academic institutions were selected for the pilot project. Also, two federal ministries were contacted, with the Ministry of Power playing a leadership role with two other government parastatals to ensure a successful introduction of the education and training programs being designed by ASI in collaboration with Esri and the participating institutions.
At the November Seminar, the ASI Team explained what GIS is, how it can be used, who can benefit from its applications, and what it will take to develop the capacity to leverage already existing infrastructure in any country. We explained how Nigeria would be in a position to join in designing how effective GIS training would be implemented through the participating institutions. Our vision is to conduct train-the-trainers sessions to build up the expert-base that will sustain teaching the use of the software year in and year out.
The project strives to initiate intensive training programs around the country, which will help in supporting the needed manpower to be employed in various fields. In the Unites States, GIS training basically started as on-the-job training and later was offered more as certificate programs. It is now, within the past decade, being offered at undergraduate and graduate levels in many higher institutions. It is beginning to develop the pre-college curriculum for high schools and supports numerous citizen group activities as well as kids’ activities. Esri wants to help extend this to Africa through its Education Foundation and non-profit efforts.
The Seminar held in November 19 & 20, 2013 hosted more than 100 participants from the selected institutions, ASI Fellows, and a few others that were interested in the program.
ASI also took advantage of the Seminar in Nigeria to celebrate “GIS day on November 20th, a day dedicated to GIS worldwide”. Last year, over nine hundred GIS Day activities were hosted worldwide with thousands of participants. ASI celebrated this special day with activities and festivities during the GIS Seminar in Nigeria. Participants had the benefits of seeing how far GIS has emerged with a look into the future. The event showed a powerful technology that has the capacity to revolutionize how we view our world.
The Ministry of Power under the leadership of the Hon. Minister, Prof. Chinedu Nebo; the Director General of the National Office for Technology Acquisition and Promotion (NOTAP), Dr. Umar Bindir; and the Director General of the National Space Research and Development Agency (NASRDA) provided their support and assistance for this successful Seminar. Also, the Distributor for the West Africa Region made his presentation during this Seminar.
To learn more about GIS follow this link to Esri, Environmental Systems Research Institute (Esri) which has devoted a lot of their resources to developing and applying core sets of applications and tools that are applied in a computer environment to create GIS technology. The software is used in more than 300,000 organizations worldwide and it is the desire of ASI to help introduce this technology to institutions in Africa. ASI will volunteer time to see the successful implementation of these efforts.
ASI continues to champion the advancement of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics throughout Africa, the Caribbean Islands, and some South American countries by maintaining core Fellows throughout the African diaspora.