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Scientists urge Africa to embrace geo-spatial tech to achieve development goals

NAIROBI, (Xinhua) — Scientists started a three-day international conference on Wednesday by calling on sub-Saharan Africa to adopt geo-spatial technologies to help achieve United Nations anti-poverty goals.

The director general of the Regional Center for Mapping of Resources for Development (RCMRD), Emmanuel Nkurunziza, said such technologies offer avenues for governments in fast tracking decision-making in achieving 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

“Once policy-makers in the region resort to application of science, the goals will be achieved within a given time frame,” Nkurunziza said during the opening of the first space science conference in Nairobi.

He told policy-makers to upscale the application of the science since RCMDR has experts who are ready to help them explore the possibility of prioritizing space science to help spur growth in their countries.

The RCMRD was established in Nairobi in 1975 under the auspices of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa and the then Organization of African Unity (OAU), today African Union (AU).

The inter-governmental organization now has 20 “contracting member states” in eastern and southern Africa regions—Botswana, Burundi, Comoros, Ethiopia, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Mauritius, Namibia, Rwanda, Seychelles, Somali, South Africa, South Sudan, Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

NAIROBI, (Xinhua) — Agrina Mussa, Malawi’s Ambassador to Kenya speaks during the Regional Center for Mapping of Resources for development (RCMRD) First International Conference in Nairobi. XINHUA PHOTO: CHARLES ONYANGO

Nkurunziza noted that the technologies are capable of helping people cope with climate change and food insecurity, two problems that affect agriculture in east and southern African countries.

“The technologies are a benefit to human kind and this generation cannot afford to miss the applications of space science and earth observations since they remain connected to the base where real lives are lived and the true value of scientific and technological advancements is realized,” he added.

The scientist noted that RCMRD will continue living up to promoting sustainable development through generation, application and dissemination of geo-information and allied ICT services and products to member states and beyond.

Nkurunziza said the RCMDR is currently providing primary service in drought monitoring, frost forecasting in tea growing areas, stream flow and flood prediction, land cover mapping and vulnerability assessment.

Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary for Land and Physical Planning Jacob Kaimenyi said the country is establishing a state-of-the-art positioning system, known as Kenya Geodetic Reference Frame (KENREF), for data acquisition and processing.

This, Kaimenyi said, follows a recommendation by the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) and the UN Global Geospatial Information Management (UNGGIM).

He said Kenya now uses space technology to ascertain proper boundary rights registration and issuance of title deeds to millions of citizens.

China showcases literature on tropical diseases, ancient printing at Kenya fair

By Ben Ochieng’and Wang Xiaopeng NAIROBI (Xinhua) — A delegation of Chinese publishing sector on Wednesday showcased books on how to prevent and treat tropical diseases that have ravaged Africa during the opening day of the five-day Nairobi International Book Fair, which is on its 20th edition this year.

“The book fair is very famous in China. We prepared adequately for the event and the stand proved popular on the first day,” Chen Yingjie, an official with the delegation told Xinhua. “We anticipate the crowd to grow in the subsequent days.”

The book fair, which is organized by the Kenya Publishers Association, is one of the leading exhibitions in Africa, drawing writers of creative works or factual texts that serve as reflection of society.

Chen said exchanges of literature among nations was one way of enhancing friendship between peoples of different backgrounds, adding that both Kenyan and Chinese have the aspect of friendship as a common denominator.

The medical books, set to be on sale at the tail-end of the event, shed light on how tropical diseases like tuberculosis, malaria, diarrhea and scabies among others can be contained in the tropical region of Africa, which is more severely ravaged by infectious diseases in comparison to the temperate world.

There was also display of woodblock printing by artist Wei Lizhong. He demonstrated the ancient Chinese color printing art at the stand, which proved very popular with visitors to the fair, some of whom participated in the printing under the guide of Wei.

The activity attracted more than 300 visitors by midday, Chen said. Sofia, a primary student, was one of them. She said she liked the Chinese art because it was very interesting.

According to the organizers, the Chinese event was one of the highlights at the fair, which has drawn a total of 76 exhibitors including 16 international presenters this year.

“The number of visitors to the fair has been growing exponentially over the years. Last year we received over 26,000 guests and we anticipate the figure to be surpassed this time round if the trend continues,” said James Odhiambo, the Executive Officer of the Kenya Publishing Association.