Enabling a legal and policy framework for geospatial information utilization in Africa
Author(s)/Corporate Author (s)United Nations. Economic Commission for Africa;
United Nations. Economic and Social Council;
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Legal and policy frameworks play a critical role in geospatial information utilization. A comprehensive and transparent framework can enable the collection, use, storage and distribution of geospatial information in a country. On the other hand, a legal and policy framework that contributes to stifling the collection or use of geospatial information throughout a society or that is vague and incomplete, can have the opposite result. Over time, countries that operate with these restrictive legal and policy frameworks will be on the wrong side of the geospatial divide. A legal and policy framework that enables the utilization of geospatial information has many elements, and each will have advantages and disadvantages. Countries will require a framework that is suited to their own unique legal systems, institutions, histories and cultural and societal norms. It is therefore important to understand the strengths and weaknesses of each element when developing such a framework, taking into consideration that the importance of each element will vary between countries. Some aspects of a legal and policy framework will clearly apply to the utilization of geospatial information. These include laws that deal with a nation’s spatial data infrastructure. There are other aspects of law that may be less obvious. For example, laws relating to intellectual property rights, data protection and privacy and national space programs will have a significant impact on the collection and use of geospatial information. It is therefore necessary to consider a wide-range of laws and policies when creating a suitable framework. In addition, it is important to recognize that a legal and policy framework that supports geospatial information utilization must extend beyond national or federal laws and policies.