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Winter 2005/2006
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New Esri International Distributor

Liwal Helps in the Rebuilding and Rehabilitation of Afghanistan

  click to enlarge
Map projecting the density of populated areas in Afghanistan.

Coinciding with its acceptance into the Esri International Distributor Program, GeoVision, the new GIS division of Afghan IT company Liwal Limited, immediately committed itself to active participation in the reconstruction and rehabilitation of Afghanistan.

Comments N. R. Liwal, president of Liwal Limited, "Unfortunately, Afghanistan is a war-torn country with three decades of conflict that have effectively destroyed the country's entire infrastructure, from residential neighborhoods to national highways. We are fortunate to be in a position to offer any help that we can to assist in the relief, rehabilitation, and reconstruction efforts. With the opportunity to supply GIS software and services, our company can support GIS projects in Afghanistan whenever and wherever necessary. We are currently receiving inquiries for GIS products and services on a daily basis from a wide variety of public, private, and humanitarian agencies."

GeoVision has forged a strong relationship with the Afghanistan Information Management Service (AIMS), a United Nations (UN) Development Programme project that was originally established to provide GIS, database, information management, and training services to the Afghan government and humanitarian community.

GeoVision and AIMS are in the stage of finalizing their partnership to promote the use of GIS in Afghanistan. With its extensive experience in GIS training, AIMS is well suited to become an authorized learning center for Esri software training, while Liwal Limited, the parent of GeoVision, has widespread experience in sales, support, and application development. The partnering of GeoVision and AIMS would allow them to jump-start the process of implementing GIS throughout the country's public and private sectors because the necessary expertise for software sales, development, and training would already exist between the associates.

Continues Liwal, "Our relationship with AIMS is vital to GeoVision because it is AIMS that introduced and brought GIS to Afghanistan. GeoVision plans to utilize AIMS' skills and network to continue expanding GIS education in our country. In the near future, GeoVision and AIMS will join and offer a series of GIS software training courses."

While GeoVision is a relatively new division of Liwal Limited, core staff members have more than 10 years of experience using and developing software. This experience is key to the division's ongoing work with a number of government agencies to develop a comprehensive GIS for Afghanistan. These agencies include the Afghan Geodesy and Cartography Head Office, Central Statistics Office, Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of Communication, Ministry of Power and Energy, Ministry of Rural Rehabilitation and Development, Ministry of Urban Planning and Housing, and several others.

  group photo
N. R. Liwal, president of Liwal Limited, stands behind GIS support staff members.

Liwal believes that his company will change significantly because of its new Esri distributor status. "Our work will change tremendously in both the GeoVision division and Liwal Limited, our IT company," he says. "GeoVision will have an impact on Liwal Limited because of the need for additional hardware, such as more powerful computers, plotters, printers, and survey equipment. The fact that GeoVision is the only GIS software distributor in Afghanistan will allow us to easily expand our GIS services and consultancy work as needed."

Concerning the future of GIS in Afghanistan, Liwal says, "I see GIS growing exponentially in Afghanistan. There are already 28 registered users of Esri's software products, and each week we receive a number of new inquiries for GIS-related products or services. We believe that there are additional GIS users in the country but have not, as yet, had the opportunity to contact them. Use of GIS will grow much faster once the government of Afghanistan and our universities begin implementing the technology. At the request of several ministries, AIMS has already submitted concept papers for the implementation of GIS in line with their individual strategy plans. Certain ministries and UN agencies are already in conversation concerning the creation of the Afghanistan National Spatial Data Infrastructure, and this will help expand the use of GIS in Afghanistan. Because of the number of international nongovernmental organizations, UN agencies, and other donors in Afghanistan, there will be funds available to purchase the software, and slowly other markets for GIS will begin to open up."

For more information, contact N. R. Liwal, president of Liwal Limited (e-mail: liwal@liwal.com, Web: www.liwal.com/gis).

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