The study of geospatial analysis involves applying statistical analysis and other techniques to geographically based data, which explains why two renowned institutions decided to join forces in creating a short course on the subject.
The inaugural first leg of the short course in Geospatial Information Systems started at Wits on 7 May, jointly hosted by James Cook University (JCU) in Australia.
The course, fully funded by AusAID through the Australia Awards for Africa programme, is the first of its kind being offered on the African continent. The two academic project leaders are Prof. Roger Gibson, Head of the Wits School of Geosciences and former Wits academic Prof. Paul Dirks, now Head of the School of Earth and Environmental Sciences at James Cook University.
A cocktail function was hosted at Wits on the eve of the course, which was attended by amongst others Chris Munn, Acting High Commissioner from the High Commission of Australia; Andrew Edge, Counsellor at the Development Cooperation from AusAID; Prof. Andrew Crouch, the Dean of the Wits Faculty of Science; Kirti Menon, Wits’ Registrar; Gibson, Dirks, members of the lecturing team and students on the course.
“We are extremely excited and honoured to have been selected to partner with JCU on this initiative. The establishment of this university goes back to mining and I think it is a very relevant course that will be presented over the next few weeks. This is the first time that the course is being held in Africa, for Africans, with an African partner,” said Gibson.
The Wits team includes colleagues from the Faculties of Science (Geosciences) and Engineering and the Built Environment, particularly Mining Engineering, presenting four times – twice in 2012 and twice in 2013. The first course, which is currently underway, ends on 8 June 2012. The second course will run from 1 October to 2 November 2012.
“I know Wits will do a great job in offering a fantastic course. When I left Wits two and a half years ago, I thought that we must find a way to continue the collaboration, and I think that this course is a great opportunity for us to do just this,” said Dirks.
The 13 participants in the first semester, professionals from mining-related fields, are all non-South Africans who hail from Burkina Faso, the Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Ghana, Malawi, Mail, North Sudan, Senegal, South Sudan and Togo.