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Improvement in the wellbeing of the African people will greatly depend on how efficiently regional states manage and harness the natural resources that the continent is endowed with, the Minister for Natural resources Vincent Biruta, has said.
Biruta was officiating at the opening of a two-day conference of ministers of the Regional Centre for Mapping of Resources for Development (RCMRD) in Kigali yesterday.
The conference was preceded by the 50th meeting of the RCMRD Governing Council and its committees.
Established in Nairobi, Kenya, in 1975 under the auspices of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) and the then Organisation of African Unity, the RCMRD aims at promoting sustainable development in the member states through generation, application and dissemination of geo-information and allied ICT technologies, products and services.
Rwanda is part of this Centre of an inter-governmental organisation, which currently has 20 contracting member states in the Eastern and Southern Africa regions. These include; Botswana, Burundi, Comoros, Ethiopia, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Mauritius, Namibia, Rwanda, Seychelles, Somali, South Africa, South Sudan, Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
Biruta said RCMRD’s mission is to assist member states in the mapping of resources for development.
« All our countries are currently pursuing a development agenda with the common denominator being to improve the wellbeing of our people, » Biruta said, adding that, « Our success will greatly depend on how well we manage and harness the natural resources that our continent is endowed with.
In addition to re-affirming continued support to the Centre, Biruta said, « Rwanda will seek to encourage other countries in the region that have not yet taken up membership to do so, because we can certainly achieve more together.
The chairperson of the Governing Council, Sultan Mohammed Alya, told The New Times that, since its establishment, the Centre has been instrumental in capacity building in resource survey, mapping, remote sensing, and natural resources assessment and management in Africa.
Dr Emmanuel Nkurunziza, the director-general for Rwanda Natural Resources Authority (RNRA) and the Chief Registrar of Land Titles, said that the Centre has been instrumental in helping Rwanda and other member states to establish their national mapping agencies.
« The Centre works with National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), which enables us (members) to have access to more sophisticated tools to carry out efficient work in the fields of surveying and mapping, like aerial photography, photogrammetry, photo-interpretation, first order geodesy, remote sensing and others, » Nkurunziza said.
He added that Rwanda’s entire land has been mapped, using sophisticated tools like satellite, thanks to the help and supervision of RCMRD.
The Centre, every year, trains more than 3,000 technical officers from its member states and other African countries in the fields of surveying and mapping, remote sensing, GIS and natural resources assessment and management.
Meanwhile, Nkurunziza was yesterday appointed the new director-general for RCMRD, replacing Dr Farah Omar Hussein.