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Constraints and opportunities in human resource development in Africa in the field of earth resources and environment information


Academic year: 2022

Partager "Constraints and opportunities in human resource development in Africa in the field of earth resources and environment information"


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ECA/NRD/CART.9/ORG.33 November 1996

Original: ENGLISH

Ninth United Nations Regional

Cartographic Conference for Africa Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

11-15 November 1996










Assessment of a country's betterment status is now by a system of its natural/earth resources and environmental information accounting on the basis of what is there, how much is used, and the optimum desirable for sustainable progress. This national capital stock taking requires a powerful tool - Natural resources and environment information


India is using its information technology effectively to initiate sustainable natural resources utilisation. Currently, natural resources and environment information is being recognised as a utility as important an infrastructure as water, roads, hospitals, etc. African national mapping organisations are already under pressure to develop spatial data infrastructure as part of the national utilities for socio-economic development. The main constraint is human resources development. Education and training are the vehicles for successful human resources development. Constraints on education and training are many. Issues range over who to educate and train, what type of education and training, where it should be delivered, who should pay and how the trained and specialised could be retained to have a critical mass for

successful management of the SDI. Constraints: these include such main issues as

marketing strategies, weak patronage of the Regional Centres, high cost of digital systems and products, lack of appreciation of the importance of long term investment in the relevant

scientific and technological education, etc.

Numerous opportunities for human resources development in the field of earth resources and environmental information exist in Africa but are not yet sufficient in number and some are weak or inappropriate, both at national, sub-regional and regional levels. Institutions



involved include UNOOSA African Centres for Space Science and Technology Education, ECA sponsored Regional and Sub-regional Centres as well as private organisations working in the information technology.

In conclusion, the paper stresses the need for encouragement to the national and regional centres to develop indigenous-based training of personnel. In doing so standardization should be considered very important for national institutions and sub-regional member states to co-operate in the development of the spatial data infrastructure.

African countries development can never be sustainable as long as they depend mainly on external funding. There is need for Africa to mobilize internal resources. Severe shortage of skilled and experienced personnel and inappropriate or weak institutions are among the major factors slowing down the pace of development in Africa. The way some donors1 technical assistance have been provided have not helped successfully sustainable critical capacity building and this need to be reviewed.

Finally, some recommendations are made to address these issues.


Earth resources (land as space for physical development, soils for agricultural production, rock minerals, water; atmosphere and the biota) constitute the national capital of a country. It is now fashionable to assess the well-being or betterment status of a country not by mere economic indicators such as the gross national product, GNP, but by the system of natural resources accounting, which has at its core the concept of carrying capacity. Carrying capacity implies that improvement in the quality of life is possible only when the pattern and levels of production- consumption/conservation activities are compatible with the capacities of the land as natural environment. The carrying capacity-based planning process thus involves an integration of social expectations and ecological capabilities by minimising future differentials between realised and desired supply/demand patterns, infrastructure congestion patterns, resource availability/use patterns and assimilative capacity/residual patterns, (1). The operational framework for internalisation of the concept of carrying capacity to ensure sustainable development involves the estimation of supportive and assimilative capacities, and optimal allocation of resources. In other words, To ensure optimal



allocation of resources, locale-specific environment-friendly, economically feasible and culturally acceptable action plans are essential. These integrated developmental plans must include a broader integrative view of soils, minerals, water and biota to resolve the land use conflicts and to ensure the maintenance of ecological integrity of life the support systems and the productive capacities of the environment, (2).


Information is a commodity; it has value, is marketable, its value can be added to through processing.

It is tradeable only if known, wanted and is available in easily accessible form. Earth Resource and

Environment Information is essentially a spatial information or geo-information. One of the greatest

spin-offs of the Space Technology is the Information Technology. Throughout the world, information

and communication technologies are generating a new industrial revolution which is adding huge capacities to human intelligence, (3). Among the utilities considered very essential for effective development of the natural resources, Geo-infomation Utility, (4) or Spatial Data Infrastructure (5) or Geographic Data Infrastructure, (6) is defined to be a set of institutional, technical and economic arrangements to support availability of relevant, up-to date and integrated geo-information, timely and at an affordable cost to support decision making processes related to a country's sustainable

development. The utility is needed to improve access, sharing, integration and use of geo-

information to support decision making at different levels (horizontally: across different thematic databases; vertically: from local to national levels).


The RIO Conference emphasised the relevance of surveying, mapping, and charting in the

implementation of Agenda 21 and pointed out the need for all countries to recognise and implement programmes aimed at

■ creating access to appropriate information;

■ developing and strengthening the legal framework for land management with a view to improving access to land resources and land ownership for the purpose of alleviating poverty due to land hunger;

■ increasing exchange of information on demographic dynamics and sustainability;


■ undertaking national inventory of land resources with a view to establishing US for sustainable settlement development;

■ creating efficient and accessible land markets by improving land registry systems and streamlining land transaction procedures for sustainable settlement development;

■ developing integrated information system for environmental monitoring, accounting and impact analysis with a view to combating land degradation;

■ developing methodologies for establishment of databases on land uses for the purposes of sustainable agriculture and rural development,

■ developing databases for assessing the coastal areas and for ship route charting for navigational safety as a measure for the protection of the oceans;

■ transforming existing information into forms more useful for decision-makers.

The role of the Information Technology , IT, for achieving these goals cannot be over-emphasised.

The IT has created a new information management concept, the concept of spatial data, which in some literature is referred to as geographic information, geo-data, or geo-information.


Spatial Data Infrastructure, SDI (7) or Geographic Information Infrastructure, Gil, (8), or Geo- information Utility, GU, (4) refers to the totality of the assemblage of the technology and human resources together for sharing of data, which is becoming increasingly possible through the development of electronic networks. By sharing data, duplication of collection and pre-processing is avoided, partnership can be fostered, and citizens can become active participants in planning for their communities (9). It is an umbrella of policies, standards and procedures under which organisations and technologies interact to foster more efficient use , management and production of spatial data . This last definition agrees with President Clinton's executive definition, which is, the people, technology(software, hardware, data, telecommunication), and policies necessary to share geographic data across all levels ofgovernment, the private and non-profit sectors, academia and the community, (10)

Going by the definition above, the human resources dimension of the SDI encompasses the policy/decision makers at the top of the pyramid, the middle class of professional and technical supporting cadres, descending through the hierarchy of the pyramid to the base at which is the public and the school-going goup, the latter being the labour force of tomorrow.


In almost all the African countries there is now an increasing pressure to create a National Spatial Data Infrastructure NSDI, as a condition for effective management of the natural resource and environmental information for the fulfilment of the goals of Agenda 21. Most of the countries are already obtaining World Bank assistance for the implementation of the NSDI. The current development strategies therefore include the creation of National Spatial Data Infrastructure NSDI (NGII, NGU) as an important national utility service. Indeed NSDI is put at the same level of importance as any of the physical and social utilities of a country.


There is an Indian experience which indicates that technology is essentially a human-driven endeavour as far as policy formulations and implementations are concerned. The human resources aspect has been amply demonstrated in a programme developed from the Indian space technology.

The Department of Space embarked upon a national mission called, Integrated Mission for

Sustainable Development (IMSD), charged with integrated land and water development (2). The task

involved the generation of information on natural resources using satellite data integrated with

relevant collateral information. The collateral information included meteorological inputs (rainfall intensity, distribution etc.) and socio-economic/cultural and demographic information. All these

maps (spatial data) and other collateral information (attribute data) were integrated using GIS to

identify coherent micro level land units in terms of their resource potential and problems. Specific action plans for these land units were arrived at in consultation with experts from various central/state developmental departments, agricultural universities/research institutions and district level officials.

The Indian experience points to three major requirements:

■ Development of tele-communication as vehicle in the form of information highways/super highways linking vertically and horizontally distributed workstations (environments) in the area of information system applicable to natural resources and environment management.

■ Education and training Space Science and Technology and related spin-off discipline as a deliberate effort to facilitate the creation of the spatial data infrastructure needed for organised and orderly development.

■ Deliberate efforts to create the necessary work environment to encourage indigenous manpower growth and its effective utilisation for the eco-based socio-economic development.



The United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs is actively campaigning for the development of Space Science and Technology Education. (11). For the African Region, the UNOOSA has completed arrangements for two African centres education, the anglophone centre being placed at the campus of Obafemi Awolowo University at He Ife to work in collaboration with RECTAS, and the francophone centre being placed in Morocco's national centre (12). The basic idea behind it is to

educate educators, senior level scientists and technologist, who, rather than being able to apply already known principles, also have the capability to develop new techniques and principles for the promotion of technology and its applications. The hope is that the scientists educated at the centres will become the nuclei for the education of additional local experts in space technology and applications, thus setting off a chain of reaction for generation of adequately trained staff, in sufficient numbers to provide a measure of self-reliance.


Education and training are the vehicles for the development of the human resources. The objectives of education are to bring the individual to an understanding of a subject, so that he or she may form independent opinions, establish priorities, understand and discuss the methodology, the techniques used and their applications. Education is concerned with the development of mental ability and of mental power, and therefore with the attitude of a person.

The objectives of training are to teach individuals ta carry out specific tasks based upon an accepted methodology and for which known techniques are avilable. Understanding of the context is not always required; often only the ability to apply the technique is needed. Knowledge of the subject as a whole, may not be necessary. Training brings the individual to a desired standard of efficiency achieved by practical instructions and practice. Specific differences between training (13) are that, training emphasises on specialised instruction, short time frame, concentrated attention, intense delivery, practical emphasis, performance skills, and behavioural change. Education on the other hand emphasises on general instruction, long time frame, dispersed attention, measured delivery, theoretical emphasis, knowledge acquisition and synthesis of ideas. To create the awareness,



flexibility and motivation necessary to adjust to rapidly changing conditions, education and 'continuing education" programmes are necessary to keep pace with the fast changing information technologies applicable to resources and environment management.


First of all the current scene shows extreme high cost in data acquisition and management in which there is an increased demand for sophisticated applications, ( Paresi and Radwan). There is also rapidly changing mode of information management from the traditional centralised location and authority to a decentralised or distributed locations. The picture is that of heterogeneous hosts, operating systems, data sources and data structures. The organisational aspect (tools, services, management, etc. ) for supporting the development of the decentralised systems has also changed.

For a country, the education and training have to be an integrated approach. The Indian approach is an integrated one . Australia and New Zealland are following the integrated approach with a strategy for managing the national level through a National Council (7).

The implications of this for human resources development is that it is not a question of ad-hoc planning for a few at a time, using external of donors benevolence. It is also not a question of concentration on one particular national institution.

The scope of human resources development for natural resources and environment information is determined by the horizontal (the sectors that work in any of the fields associated with natural resources and the environment) and vertical (from national to local level institutions) data-users (15).


At the national levels there are unco-ordinated efforts which are seen in the following ways: universities

trying to mount post graduate programmes in Remote Sensing and GIS with some skeletal facilities

which are either supplied under donor assistance or inter-university research co-operation programmes;

parastatals which have managed to use local budget to establish some workstations on softwares and hardwares that are already becoming obsolete; private companies, especially mining and civil engineering

developing their own operating systems restricted to their own field of applications; national centres of

remote sensing trying to expand into the GIS domain with donor assistance programme or loans from the Brettonwwods institutions. Some national mapping agencies NMAs, are beginning to establish digital basemap systems for nation-wide conversion of the existing medium scale topographic maps from

analogue to digital. As a result of the changing technology, these NMAs are currently under pressure to



convert from the traditional centralised system of static, hardcopy producers of topographic maps to more market-driven, dynamic softcopy digital products to serve the requirements of the hosts of secondary .tertiary data users.

Regional Centres which have the mandate to develop training facilities to facilitate manpower development are starved of funds as a result of low contributions from the member states. Among the many constraints the following are the common ones:

■ There are fiscal and planning barriers to implementation of new courses in institutions of higher learning. Consequently, the justification for the extra expenditure that comes with new courses is strongly contested by those in authority who are not fully convinced of the benefits of these technologies.

■ There is an acute shortage of teaching staff. Staff who received training are finding better placements elsewhere resulting in very high turn-over.

■ There is a lack of established formal theory, literature and teaching and training materials.

Materials that are available are invariably developed in Europe and North America. Usually these are of basic relevance but not made easily applicable to the local situations. Even that they are very limited.

At the regional level the existing Regional Centres have been set up to address the problem of middle level manpower development. These centres are currently under-funded by their member states, who are under donor influence to send their personnel outside to the donor institutions for training in environment generally more sophisticated than the conditions the trainees will return to after the training. The irony of the situation is that, some of the regional centres are being drawn into partnership programmes for technology development and transfer, and under these partnership programmes the main condition is that the member states of the centres should show concrete evidence of commitment.


Education and training have many implications concerning the issues of who are to be

educated/trained, what the training should be and where it should take place, how long the training should be, who should bear the cost, who should do the training, how the trained could be retained after training, and what the critical mass should be (14). These issues are discussed as a dimension of the scope of constraints and possibilities. There must be a purpose for education and training. The development of a National Spatial Data Infrastructure (NSDI) should be the basic purpose for


education and training. To reach this goal it is inevitable to encounter the issues which have been raised in this very paragraph.

Who are to be educated/trained?

Human resources development for NSDI should take into consideration the people for whom, and by whom it is to be developed : the public, the technical and professional cadres, and the policy makers are the three broad categories who need education and training in one form or the other. To break that down into sub-groups, the list includes the following:

• Decision-makers and planners, including politicians and senior officials, who need to have a general awareness of the relevance of GIS applicable to natural resources and environment information management.

• Opinion leaders (leading scientists, directors of government environment programmes), who are influential in approving or disapproving the use of the technology

• Managerial executives in institutions, agencies and private enterprises, who require sufficient technical background to co-ordinate activities regarding specific applications the technology.

• Professional and technical cadres carrying out resource surveying tasks at various levels, who should receive instructions for interpretation of imagery and digital data for mapping and monitoring in various disciplines and environments and the manipulation of the data in a GIS.

• Technical support staff, from engineers to technicians, who should be responsible for construction, operation and maintenance of facilities and equipment and which need manuals with instructions for performing technical tasks;

• Research workers, who should develop interdisciplinary approaches in their work and possess in-depth knowledge on several aspects of GIS applications.

• Teachers, Trainers responsible for the education and training of the various groups of personnel, who should have an insight in technical matters and in environmental sciences, and experience in educational technology and curriculum development;

• Students at schools, colleges, universities, etc.;

• The general public


A technology can be appreciated better by a purposefully informed population, and the

infrastructure for the success of the technology can be meaningfully utilised by the community if the members are adequately educated and trained.

Where the training should be and be the type the training should take

There are two options to the issue: training within the African conditions, and training overseas in the native environment of the technology. While both internal and external trainings are good, and each has its own merits and demerits, the importance of training in the African environment can never be over-emphasised if the conditions are the right type.

Naturally, it is a small number which need high-level education aiming at both specialisation and integration, with emphasis on the consequences of technological innovations. The required educational facilities should, for reasons of efficiency, be regional or international, in the sense that a regional institution has relatively much expanded facilities for shared uses. In this case the small and the poor countries are obviously spared the financial burden of having to look for large capital outlay for the expensive, yet fast changing hard/soft-wares of the technology.

As Africa is not at the moment a hard/soft-ware producer, it is still valid to give some consideration (for now) to overseas training for the core educators, trainersiand innovators of the technology.

As to the type of training, there are several types depending upon the objectives. Below is a brief

discussion ofthe most common ones:

On-the-job and in-service Training

On-the-job training usually goes with transfer of technology projects, pilot projects or other low-cost interventions. There are also in-service training courses with advantages of teaching materials

specifically related to the local conditions and needs, and also the advantage of a larger group being

trained at relatively low cost, in order to reach a critical mass.

On-the-job training is an essential component of every technological training programme. It provides the "finishing" stage of the classroom and laboratory training which is necessarily isolated

from the real conditions of the workplace, since many real problems cannot be easily simulated in the training laboratory. It is the time when the trainee leams to apply the formally-acquired skills in the wide variety of tasks and problems which confront the specialist. All skills are learnt best by

exercising them.



On-the-job training uses available personnel and equipment resources; it does not require special training staff or accommodation; it is specific to the local needs and the trainee is productive on the job. In the RS and GIS applications, on-the-job training is particularly relevant where practical training far outweighs theoretical study, as for example, in the techniques of digital data processing,

"data entry", and digitising maps for input in the GIS. Within a country, there are many co-operation projects which create the facilities for on-the-job experience. The problem is in the retention of the personnel after gaining the necessary skill. Often improved conditions succeed in retaining the personnel.

The dangers however are that, ( a ), on-the-job training may be used by default as the "natural"

training method where more structured training with a sound theoretical component is really required to produce fully rounded specialists, ( b ) that, the supervisors with indifferent abilities may be used, (c) that training may be too narrow having significant gaps in skill or knowledge, ( d ) and that, the effectiveness of training may not be objectively measured.

Short and long term training in the African regional centres

The regional centres, by the very nature of their mandate are to offer training relevant to the socio- economic and cultural context of Africa.

■ At RECTAS, Ile-Ife, Nigeria, for example, there are the RECTAS-ITC-GDTA partnership projects on curricula development for manpower training in GEOINFOMATICS.

■ At RCSSMRS in Nairobi, Kenya, there is currently an Italian funded AFRICOVER project for land cover information, experience from which is likely to be passed on through training seminars and workshops to its catchment countries.

■ At CRTO in Ouagadougou, there is a revival of its remote sensing programmes with GIS

■ At AGRYMET in Niamey , the environmental application of AVHRR data for vegetation


■ Some national centres ( e.g. Morocco, Tunisia, Cote d'lvoire, Kenya, etc. are developing

programmes of training for their neighbours.

If the centres are well equipped and well staffed they should be the appropriate vehicles for raising

the critical mass needed by the individual countries . The regional centres are the most appropriate

for the North-South-South partnership in technology transfer.



Long Term Training programmes at RECTAS

Short courses cannot raise sufficient technical and professional manpower needed for the digital mapping technology. It is the long courses that offer the required theory and practice sufficiently.

RECTAS by its mandate offers these long term courses at three levels: Technician (18 months), Technologist (18 months), and Post Graduate (12 months) in Photogrammetry, Remote Sensing/GIS, and in the near future in Cartography.

In collaboration with ITC (Netherlands) and GDTA (France), RECTAS is introducing programmes for GEOINFOMATICS. This development is being promoted with funding by the European Union on one hand, and on the other hand separately by the Governments of France and Netherlands.

Overseas stafftraining

Most of the present generation of practitioners have been trained overseas in places where the technology has developed. Given the superiority of the environment of the ex situ training facilities in the advanced economies the debate still goes on about how long Africa should rely on outside help with its own "weather permitting" mechanisms.

Sending African staff overseas for training has both its merits and demerits. Among the merits are the availability to the trainee of well-equipped laboratories, highly qualified/experienced teachers, multi-disciplinary, interrelated programmes, benefits of international contacts and exchange of ideas with fellow students from other countries, and maintenance allowance which enhances his or her living standard as compared to conditions in the home country. The demerits are that, only a few per country can be trained abroad each year; on their return (if they do return at all), they are often promoted to positions where they no longer apply the skill gained from the training. In many cases the training materials and conditions are sometimes less relevant to the home conditions; the training, (made possible by donors* fellowships) are focused too much on the technology of the donor.

How long the training should be and who should do the training?

In the present conditions, African countries on the whole need both short-term, medium-term and long-term programmes to fulfil their various requirements. Though figures are not easy to come by for analysis of the situation, it is evident that, most international, regional and bilateral technical co-



operation programmes, despite providing large sums of money, are geared to short-term objectives.

Associated with these co-operation projects are aid-sponsored training programs which are particularly on-and-off type short courses. These suffer from the inability of both the contributing and participating agencies to follow-up, reinforce and extend the training of those involved in the initial courses. So much of the learning is dissipated so that the momentum for using the technology is lost because the participants from these courses on return to their own organisations invariably loose the opportunity for implementing the skills acquired ; some persevere for a while and finally leave for a greener pasture.

Depending on the kind of project in view, and depending also on the manpower situation and educational content of the country, the duration of training, based on what has been done in the past, and is being done at present, falls into five categories:

• short (five days) courses/seminars/workshops for senior decision makers, as a means of sensitisation

• two-four weeks introductory GIS courses to professionals both as a sensitising mechanism and also initial empowerment.

• two to six months courses to professionals for basic operationalisation of the technology

• nine to eighteen months courses to professionals and technicians for building the capability to perform adequately

• one to two years for an M.Sc and two to four years for a PhD for educators, trainers, researchers and innovators.

The present training activities for RS/GIS consist of five categories of institutions offering either RS with GIS as a component or vice versa.. They are the following institutions:

• Universities and other educational institutions accredited for education as part of the

standard curricula or as separate programmes;

• Remote sensing centres, established for applied research in remote sensing and for its

introduction to user agencies, and who offer GIS as part of the courses;

• GIS centres and User agencies capable of conducting short courses in the application of


• National institutions organising irregular ad hoc training courses in GIS for their own or

in co-operation with other countries for their respective manpower development;



• Private enterprises, independent research laboratories and institutes are occasionally organising ad hoc workshops, seminars and on-the-job training as part of a development project;

Though from the above organisms, a number of GIS personnel have emerged on the scene, it cannot be said that the various programmes have been successful. An obvious problem has been lack of co ordination among the different programmes. If it continues, like that then it is likely to create temporary over-supply of educational opportunities offered in an incoherent manner, with the danger of imbalance in the personnel pyramid. This is especially so when universities mount their own programmes with inadequate equipmentation. The result is that they are able to turn out only ill- equipped, theoretically loaded graduates who fill the middle levels with professional level salaries yet not being able to perform adequately unless they are retrained.

The current technical training programmes respond often solely to immediate needs, or are too strongly based on past experiences, instead of forming part of a long-term educational strategy or personnel development plan. The computer technology is changing by the month, rendering software training in any one of them outdated soon after the training is completed.

There is the need for better co-ordination by the major institutes/agencies providing the training .

This co-ordination is better planned within the context of the North-South-South co-operation, with the development partnerships developed between the existing external institutions (UNEP, ,

UNITAR, FAO, ITC, GDTA, etc.) and the regional centres ( RECTAS, RCSSMRS, CRTO, etc.) on one hand, and on the other, the national centres.

Who should bear the cost of the training?

Perhaps, outside South Africa, very few University institutions in Africa have been able to finance

adequate facilities with much internal funding. . The few which have attempted to do so are

precariously balancing on external assistance from inter-university research co-operation

programmes. Financial commitment to RS/GIS education and training from the government for national or regional programmes have been sporadic with the result that, left to internal funding very littlecouldbe done to allow RS/GIS technologies to become operational.

Private industries, for example, those in the geological and mining sectors have committed substantial amounts to implementing RS/GIS technology for their own use with the situation that much of the personnel development has been an in-house affair.



Severe financial constraints on university and research institutions over the last ten years have meant that few institutions have committed sufficient funds to establish adequate facilities to meet the growing demands . Sporadic grants for the purchase of a single workstation by individual faculty departments, and appointment of academic staff with inadequate skills in RS/GIS are indicators of inadequacy for education and training by the African universities.

Not much internal financial resources have been committed, for the general reason that the national survival planning strategy places high priority on the most essential consummates, postponing allocation to desirable capital items.

Until such time as sufficient potential users become the actual adopters of the technology and thereby create a demand for trained and capable personnel, the developers of that technology and agencies searching for markets will continue in the so-called technology transfer business by directly supporting and funding the establishment and maintenance of training programmes in RS/GIS. This trend will continue until the real benefits of RS/GIS are seen and felt to justify the large capital outlay.

Currently, at the national level it is the World Bank funded projects which are seriously funding RS/GIS applications with training component. Of course this is an indirect national funding based on loans.

What should be the critical mass for operationalisation?

Determination of the optimum size of the professional/technical manpower has something to do with the idea of critical mass. "Critical mass" as an idea originated in nuclear physics where a chain- reaction will only occur if the mass of the fissile atoms is above a certain value: the critic mass. The idea applies here in particular to the creation of a small team of expert engineers and technicians for

the institutions expected to manage the information system. Two or three persons are usually insufficient to really have an impact on a new field or on a new technology in an established

department or institute.

One may like to use the Indian experience, which indicates that, teams of about 20 to 30 persons at different levels and in diverse disciplines are required for the local centres to support the Surveying Institution in each of the states in the Federation. In the African environment a similar number will

not be high for setting up in a distributed environment at the Local Government level, a database for Land Related Information System LRIS , for the purpose of its fiscal and physical planning .



There are also the research institutions for Water, Soils, Aquatic, Forestry, Crop, Marine, Game and wild-life resources, the Meteorological services, the Environmental Protection Agencies, which

operate as national level GOs. These institutions are another set of data users whose individual

systems could be organised as federated data sharing community, each with its own specialised


Manpower and map situation assessments are needed to determine national data gaps and needs for federated system of Resource and Environment Information database.

How can the trained be retained ?

Personnel must not only be trained to do the job, but must be motivated to perform efficiently. If

training is very important, then motivation for performance is even much more important for the success of the technology transfer. Among the factors of motivation the following are considered to be critical for staff stability and initiative for innovation:

• Perceived status of the job, which depend on the salary level compared to other opportunities, the level of technology used, the physical conditions of the work ; publicity given to the job location, and the work environment;

• Perceived career opportunity, influenced largely by such things as the necessary feedback on performance, (the staff member receiving clear indications on the difference between a good and a poor performance).

• Opportunity for self-achievement and career improvement, which implies among other things that the staff has to be encouraged to move up the personnel/social ladder with improved qualification from sponsored courses and/or demonstration of exceptional performance.

The competitiveness of the labour market in GIS at the moment has to be taken into consideration in relation to the productivity factors mentioned above. The skilled staff dissatisfied with their employment conditions are very likely to find better opportunities elsewhere within or outside the country. Indeed the present plague is that of the civil service organisations loosing their highly trained staff to industry soon after the training. Most African countries struggling with Structural Adjustment Programmes are currently hardly capable of retaining highly skilled GIS practitioners in the public sector.



Motivation need to be complemented with proper management to ensure that the necessary means for carrying out each job are continuously available, especially hardware spare parts. This is often a difficult problem facing African countries.


Natural resources and environment information management requires the use of the modern information technology. The current thinking places emphasis on Spatial Data Infrastructure or Geographic Information Infrastructure. Its development involves the people, the technology and policies. Technology implies the software, the hardware, the data and telecommunication. In other words the development of natural resources and environment information is predicated on an umbrella of policies, standards and procedures under which organisations and technologies interact to foster more efficient use , management and production of spatial data. The fundamental requirement is the development of the human factor as the facilitator for policy-making, policy implementation, and project execution.

The human resources development can only be achieved through education and training carefully planned . In countries which are successfully using geo-information utilities, they have put in place a national umbrella body for planning and implementation of strategies aimed at achieving general education for public awareness of the importance and implications of national spatial data infrastructure, as of the same degree of importance as the roads, hospitals, and other public utilities or services. In those countries recognition has been given to decentralisation approach as the more efficient way of using the information technology. In this decentralised approach the situation is that of heterogeneous hosts, operating systems, data sources and data structures , which require inter operability among them. All these require that basic space science and technology education be

seriously embarked upon by African countries in order to raise the relevant manpower for the

information technology. In this regard two centres have already been placed , one in Morocco and the other in Nigeria, at He Ife . The latter is envisaged to work close in collaboration with RECTAS particularly in the area of training in the use of RS and GIS techniques.

It has to be recognised that there are many constraints to achieving the development of geo- information infrastructure. We have already mentioned most of them while discussing the issues concerning education and training, we highlight them below.




The key ones worth mentioning here are the following : financial, donor parternalism, vendor's marketing strategies, weak patronage of the regional centres, high cost of digital systems and products, lack of appreciation of the importance of long term investment in the relevant scientific and technological education.

♦ Financial constraints prevent the acquisition of educational, training and research facilities needed for human resources development on long term basis which require programmes with detailed cost breakdown, implementation schedules, infrastructural requirements and end-to end planning with realistic appreciation of all linkages to ensure that the benefits of the programme reach the people. In the present weak financial situation most African countries can hardly practice this long term, systematic approach in a political environment of instability.

♦ Donor parternalism is implied in the situation where the recipient has very little or no initative to be self-supporting with the result that domestic budgets of the recipient are strictly controlled for a set of objectives not always in line with the desire for self-reliance strategy. This is evident more in the countries whose budgets are supported externally.

♦ Vendor influence of sophisticated hard- and soft-wares being sol with aggressive marketing strategy, result being that the sophistry is not really needed, and is indeed beyond the reach of the customer.

♦ Bilateral aid syndrome has led to the regional centres being starved of support while the member states are being wooed over with aggressive marketing strategies and aid conditionalities that turn them away from their commitment to the centres.

♦ High cost of space imageries, high cost of hard- and soft-wares and application of discriminatory practices by the vendors discourage private and personal initiative among the trained personnel, who are willing to carry on research and development. Remote Sensing training is still a costly exercise when viewed from the need to use satellite imagery for application projects

♦ Lack of indigenous growth of industries capable of manufacturing hard- and soft-wares needed to exploit the benefit of space technology on a nation-wide and regional scale, thereby reducing the technological capability of the nations, and resulting in a large outflow of its scarce financial resources



♦ Despite these constraints the scene shows that African countries are being swept along by the wave of the Information Technology. Its application to Spatial Data Management is recognised in all the countries. National Mapping Organisations are increasingly being pressured to covert to digital technology to respond to demand for digital data by a host of users. That in itself indicate that the new technology has taken roots. One has to look for possibilities for overcoming the constraints.

♦ Severe shortage of skilled and experienced personnel and inappropriate or weak institutions are among the major factors slowing down the pace of development in Africa because the right priorities have not been given to their development.

♦ Developing countries can never make sustainable development as long as they depend mainly on external sources for funds for manpower development among their other development efforts as no critical mass will ever emerge.

♦ Despite the fact that there had been numerous capacity building initiatives for human resources development in Africa by some donors to tackle the problem, the way some technical assistance have been provided has not helped successful capacity building. This is due to the absence of effective local participation and involvement in strategic planning, formulation, programme identification, design and implementation as well as the fact that self-confidence was generally not built for local control and the exercise of authority over development.


African Centre for Space Science and Technology Education

This is an opportunity which has come from the initiative taken by the UNOOSA. The basic idea behind it is to educate educators, senior level scientists and technologist, who, rather than being able to apply already known principles, also have the capability to develop new techniques and principles for the promotion of technology and its applications. The hope is that the scientists educated at the centres will become the nuclei for the education of additional local experts in space technology and applications, thus setting off a chain of reaction for generation of adequately trained staff, in sufficient numbers to provide a measure of self-reliance.



Strengthening the Existing Regional Centres for North-South-South Co-operation

The existing Centres have specific mandate. Some are to provide user services, some are to provide long term training for raising the much needed middle-level technical and professional manpower in the mapping sciences and technologies. The common problem is under-funding, and.absence of rationalisation among them for more effective roles in manpower development. There exist enormous potential at these Centres to be harnessed for continental approach to training and education capable of reaching the critical mass for a successful use of Spatial Data Infrastructure: Some of these centres are currently being improved in terms of critical capacity thrpugh technology development partnership with well-known training institutions in Europe, US, and Canada. The condition for this partnership is that the member countries should show more commitment to facilitate the North-South- South co-operation for technology transfer. These Centres are the right vehicles for research and development in the area of

■ Integrated uses of analogue, analytical and digital techniques in Photogrammetry, Remote Sensing, GIS and Cartography . Instruments of the four systems will for a long time remain in parallel use for mapping and map revision.

■ Training in African conditions so that what is acquired is of direct relevance to the home conditions.

■ Applications which have direct bearing to the issues of the day.

■ System maintenance service training, which is an important user service for ensuring that systems are sustainable

Relatively the cost of training at these Centres are a very reasonable fraction of what is the case for the same programme in the industrial economies. Co-operation between the industrial economies and the developing economies of Africa, should make the Centres capable of training more in a short period to attain the critical mass.

National Centres' Response to Agenda 21.

Almost every African country, as a result of the campaign of the World Bank's Programme on Environment Information Systems in Sub-Saharan Africa, has some form of skeletal infrastructure for EIS. Some are developing Remote Sensing centres. These are positive development of the RIO

Conference's emphasis on the relevance of surveying, mapping, and charting in the

implementation of Agenda 21.



Countries should follow the examples of Australia, New Zealland, Canada, etc. which have recognised the importance of national level and regional level integration for standardisation and co operative efforts.

Private Participation

The whole world is being swept into the privatisation wave, and the Information Technology is in the fore front of business enterprises which by their very nature of cost, and extremely rapid changing components cannot be handled effectively by a slow, wasteful GOs. The trend is the encouragement of indegenous brains to take up businesses in spatial information. Development of this under the umbrella of National Council for Land Information will speed the development and application of the technology.

Linkage Programmes between the Regional Centres and the National Centres

The Regional Centres have the potential to develop their user services as an "emergency call-

response" measure for system maintenance of the hard- and soft-ware systems of the national centres and other institutional laboratories. This relationship exists between RECTAS and CENATEL of Benin Republic, RECTAS and some parastatal institutions in Nigeria, and it is planned to be extended to other member states. Similar relationship exists between the Centre in Nairobi (RCSSMRS) and its member states.


Support to the new centres and development of fruitful working relationship with the old centres

African countries should support the newly created Centres for Space Science and Technology Education to achieve its objectives of human resources development for the information technology.

Complementary relationship should be worked between the old centres and the new ones that are

being placed as guests, so that there is avoidance of wasteful duplications . In that case a good balance

between education and training can be worked out.

Rationalisation of the old centres for more productive work

The rationalisation of the regional centres for more vigorous research and development need to be pursued seriously with some changes in the conditions of service aimed at encouraging vigorous use



of the indigenous brains. For example, contract appointment is very essential motivator for improvement of research and academic output. ; ; „■; . ,

The rationalisation should be extended to cover the relationship between the regional and the national centres such that procedures for managing inter-operability among the heterogeneous hosts, data sources and data structures are developed together using the indigenous experts. It is one of the many ways of starting on the road to self reliance.

Consideration for establishment of National Council for Land Information

There is the need to follow the way Australia and New Zealland have gone. They set up national council for LIS. The council co-ordinates all the national programmes in order to prevent wasteful duplications. This is recommended to African countries to adopt for purposes of efficient planning of integrated human resources development with a strategy for achieving a successful NSDI.

Consideration for establishment of National Spatial Data Infrastructure (NSDI)

Countries should give active support to the establishment of NSDI as of equal importance to other public amenities. This will motivate a host of service rendering enterprises in the information production industry. It is one way of creating a market for supplier and consumer growth.

Integrated approach to education and training.

1. National policies on education and training in RS/GIS in Africa for earth resource and environment information should be part of an over-all educational policy. Education should be regarded as a productive investment in human resources and the essential vehicle for improved social satisfaction, higher efficiency and better services.

2. Education and training are the indispensable complements of any investment in new technology and in expanded public services, and such investments are prime catalysts in socio-economic development.

3. There is the need for a programme of a seminars for trainers and educators, scientist and policy makers in Africa to ensure exchange of information on RS/GIS education, training, research, and applications.

4. Such seminars should be aimed at harmonisation, and standardisation by ensuring more coherent framework at identifying gaps in training requirements and in the application techniques



5. There are many activities that can be undertaken immediately by national and international institutions to start the development of education and training programmes that are required.

They include the following:

a. Existing training centres and facilities should be supported in their operations and their development, more especially in the efforts to develop long and medium duration courses in computer assisted mapping and spatial data analysis.

b. National educational infrastructure should be developed in each country in a way that best meets that country's social and educational applications and technological needs;

c. Co-ordination between training programmes should be maintained and improved to ensure the widest availability of new knowledge in the rapidly developing field of RS/GIS;

d. Long-term planning of RS/GIS education should be supported within an over-all development strategy;

e. Training is available abroad, but it is almost entirely dependent on the availability of fellowship awards . These are increasingly becoming scarce. Local funding sources need to be exploited.

6. Strategies need to be developed and implemented at the national, regional, institution and user group levels that will increase the number of training opportunities available and establish the necessary infrastructure to ensure the continued development of RS/GIS education and training in Africa.

7. A comprehensive survey of training institutions and facilities in Africa, and those outside Africa interested in training arrangements with African universities and training centres is desirable for planning purposes.

8. African countries need to map out a strategic plan for development of a critical mass of skilled and experienced personnel and appropriate strong institutions by harnessing the scarce available human and critical capacity resources, and ensuring effective use of these capacities to accelerate the pace of development in Africa.



9. There is need for African countries to look inwards and take special initiatives to plan a strategy for African mobilisation of internal resources for human resources development in view of dwindling external resources due to donors' fatigue.

10. Initiatives for critical capacity building for human resources development in Africa in the field of earth resources and environmental information by donors through technical assistance should ensure effective local participation and involvement in the strategic planning, formulation, programme, identification and design, so that self-confidence is generally built for local control and exercise of authority over development.


1. FAO, 1989, Sustainable Development and Natural Resources Management, FAO Conference Paper C89/2, Sup. 2, Rome.

2. Chandrasekhar, M.G. (1992), Space Technology for Sustainable Development of Natural

Resources to meet rural and urban needs. 43rd Congress, IAF, Aug. 28-Sept. 5, Washington D.C.

3. Bangemann, M., 1994; Europe and the Global Information Society: Recommendations to the European Council.

4. Paresi, CM. and Radwan, M.M. (1996); Guidelines for the Development and Maintenance of a

Geoinformation Utility in a Distributed Environment; Commission IV Working Group 6, ISPRS XVIIIth Congress, Vienna, Austria, July 1996.

5. IIR (1995) Information Industry Round Table Scoping Paper, An Austrlian Spatial Data

Infrastructure, unpublished.

6. Price Waterhouse (1995), Australian Land and Geographic Data Infrastructure Benefits Study,

published for the Australia New Zealand Land Information Council by the Australian Government Publishing Service, Canberra.

7. Kelly, P.C. (1993), Inventing the Electronic Landscape of the 21st Century. A Position Paper o n Spatial Information in New South Wales, unpublished.

8. RAVI (1996). The National Geographic Information Infrastructure (NGII). Ravi Netherlands Council for Geographic Information, Amersfoost, The Netherlands.

9. Smith, Thomas

10. President Clinton's Executive Order 12906, April 1994, White House, Washington.



11. Abiodun, A.A. (1991), 'Indepth long-term education: a vehicle for tehcnology development5, UN- Outer Space Affairs Division Paper.

12. UNCOPUOS, 1995, Report ofh UNOOSA's Basic Space Science for Developing Countries, Vienna, 1996.

13. Burns and Henderson, I (1989) 'Education and Training in GIS: ESRT, Technical Papers ACSM- ASPRS, annual Convention, Volume 1, Cartography and Education.

14. Van Ganderen, L. (1992), Guidelines for Education and Training in Environmental Information Systems in Sub-Saharan Africa: some key issues', Guideline Series No. 1. Environmental Division Technical Department, Africa Region, World Bank.

15. Konecny, G. (1993), 'Mapping and Remote Sensing - the backbone of enviornmental information systems in Africa' presented to the Eighth UN Regional artographic Conference for Africa, Addis Ababa, Feb. 22-27, 1993.

For further information, please contact:


RECTAS P.M.B. 5545 O.A.U. Campus,

Ile-Ife, Osun State, NIGERIA.

Phone 234-36-230050 Fax 234-36-230481



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