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Summer 2005
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First ArcGIS West Africa Local User Conference Held in Accra, Ghana

  click to enlarge
Some of the attendees at the ArcGIS West Africa Local User Conference—Front Row Only Left to Right: Elton Yeun (Esri Canada), David Asante Apeatu (Director, CID), Sam Aboah (CEO, Sambus), Opoku Acheampong (Former Commissioner, IRS), Hon. J.H. Mensah (Senior Minister, Ghana), Professor Kwesi Andam (Vice Chancellor, KNUST), Kwaku Nsiah (Technical Advisor, Min. of Communications), Samuel Larbi Darko (Exec. Dir., Sambus), Dr. Fosu (Head, Geomatics Dept. KNUST).

Esri's distributor for West Africa—Sambus Company Limited—held the First ArcGIS West Africa Local User Conference at the La Palm Royal Beach Hotel, Accra, Ghana, from March 31–April 1, 2005. The theme for the conference was "GIS, an Effective Tool for Governance." The conference brought together approximately 200 attendees from the geoinformation community, including government agencies, academia, nongovernmental organizations, and private-sector institutions from all the regions of Ghana and the West African subregion.

The aim of the conference was to bring together stakeholders within the geospatial field to discuss and adopt ideas, techniques, and tools that would promote the use of geospatial information as a reference for more efficient decision making in all sectors of the economy.

The opening plenary was chaired by Professor Kwesi Andam, vice chancellor of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology. After the welcome statement by the executive chairman of Sambus, Samuel Aboah, Wojtek Gawecki (Esri regional manager for EMEA) gave the keynote address, briefing participants on the multiplicity of GIS techniques and applications.

Professor Dominic Fobih (minister for Lands, Forestry, and Mines) stressed the timely nature of the conference, a period when the nation is at the threshold of recruiting a land information system (LIS) consultant under the Land Administration Project to advise and assist in the application of GIS or LIS for the click to enlargeproject. Additionally, Kwaku Nsiah (technical advisor, Ministry of Communications) delivered a statement on behalf of the minister of communications, mentioning measures and investments that the government is undertaking in the transformation of governance, for which GIS would be used as a creative tool to improve the citizens' quality of life. One of the investments would be to provide a wide area network between the different ministries, departments, and agencies for data sharing. J.H. Mensah, senior minister of Ghana, emphasized the need to embrace GIS as a tool that would aid development processes in the country. The senior minister then formally opened the exhibition area. This area showcased a map gallery, projects undertaken by GIS companies, GPS equipment, GIS books for all industries from Esri Press, and much more.

The second day began with presentations on available data, sources and issues, collection, and management. The presenters were from the Survey Department of Ghana, Trimble, GeoTech Systems Limited, and UGR. On the third day, a GIS seminar was held, conducted by Gawecki and Benjamin Ramseth (Esri, Redlands, California). Approximately 60 participants attended, 80 percent of whom were from the public sector.

For more information, contact Samuel Aboah or Samuel Larbi Darko, Sambus Company Limited (Web: www.sambus.com).

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