The people, science and technology behind discovery

GIRAF gathering builds bridges in Africa’s geoscience community

by KRISTINE ASCHE on FEBRUARY 27, 2014 News&Views

More than 120 participants from 26 African and seven non-African countries took part in the GIRAF workshop of the Geoscience Information in Africa network, which included 40 presentations on projects and proposed developments. 

GIRAF 2013, the third workshop of the Geoscience Information in Africa network, was held this past September in Accra, Ghana. The event was marked by talks on various African geoscience information projects as well as progress reports on co-operative efforts among companies and organizations in a number of African jurisdictions.

More than 120 participants from 26 African and seven non-African countries took part in the workshop, which included 40 presentations on projects and proposed developments.  Among them was a presentation on GeoSciML (geoscience markup language) and the digital geological map data initiatve “OneGeology”.

The theme of GIRAF 2013 was “Geoscience Information, Sustainable Mining and Mapping.”

The advisor to the vice-president of Ghana and the Minister for Lands and Natural Resources officially opened the event, which coincided with the centennial celebrations of that country’s Geological Survey. Among the other VIPs on hand were the Australian High Commissioner to Ghana, the acting German ambassador, and the director of the Geological Survey of Ghana.

A group of 14 GIRAF ambassadors agreed to form national core groups in a number of African jurisdictions. It was also agreed that the GIRAF newsletter would henceforth be published in French as well as English. Meanwhile, a small group of GIRAF reps undertook to prepare a series of recommendations with respect to small-scale mining.

Participants at the GIRAF 2013 Workshop in Ghana.

Founded in 2009, the GIRAF network is governed by the Commission for the Management and Application of Geoscience Information (CGI) of the the International Union of Geological Sciences (IUGS) and is supported by UNESCO (the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization). The event was heavily supported by BGR, Germany’s Federal Institute for Geosciences and Natural Resources, the BMZ, Germany’s Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, and AusAID's International Mining for Development Centre.

The GIRAF network brings together African scientists, authorities, experts, companies in the mining or consultant sector and other stakeholders in geoscience in an effort to share information, promote and support cross-border projects, and make Africa a more active participant in the international geoscience information community. The long-term goal is to raise awareness of  the value of such information and how that may contribute to the health and prosperity of all Africans.

GIRAF 2013 ran from September 23 to 27, 2013. The two previous workshops occurred in 2009 (Namibia) and 2011 (Tansania). A fourth will be held in 2015 in Mozambique.

For more information, go to www.giraf-network.org

Dr. Kristine Asch is GIRAF Coordinator.