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George Mason UniversitySchool of Business

Using Geospatial Technology to Promote Economic Development of Africa

Written by Jennifer Anzaldi on .

Obed Ligate212x240The concept of establishing development state models in Africa is not new, but it has seen great discussion since the 1980s. The idea is to have the government become involved in businesses and production to enhance all its people’s development.

“Development state is derived from the Development State Theory whereby a country has all its policies geared to economic development, and the government plays a central role in regulation, planning, and industrial policy,” says Obed Ligate, adjunct faculty member for management. “When the government executes the industrial policy properly, it improves domestic firms’ competitiveness and capabilities and promotes structural transformation that may lead to economic growth.”

One of the reasons scholars have discussed this model is due to its success in the East Asian economies of Japan, Taiwan, South Korea, and Hong Kong in the 1960s.

Ligate has renewed the discussion with his recent research surrounding the use of geospatial technology to support development state‘s goal of economic development in Africa. Geospatial technologies refer to all the technology used to acquire, manipulate, and store geographic information and use the data in decision-making in climate change effects and mitigation, education, health care, agriculture productivity, better land use, natural resource management, and even conflict resolution. Implementing geospatial technologies provides African countries the opportunity for better decision-making to manage her ample natural resources while bridging the technological gap between Africa and the rest of the world, ultimately achieving economic development, the very essence of a development state.

In a presentation at the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, Ligate shared his research. “I have used SWOT (Strength Weaknesses Opportunities Threats) and TOWS (Threats Opportunities Weaknesses Strengths) as an analytical framework on how geospatial technology (remote sensing and geospatial information system) can be leveraged to enhance African development,” says Ligate. “Although my research analyzed solutions at a macro level, the same approach may be used at a micro level (individual firms) and increase competitiveness.”

For Ligate, this research is personal and anything he can do to encourage it is essential to him. “Africa is my native continent, so I am a stakeholder for African development.”