Mr Fernand Bale, Director of Côte d’Ivoire Geographic and Digital Information Center discuss the Nation’s National Geospatial Program

Mr Fernand Bale: Director of the Geographic and Digital Information Center (CIGN)

The Côte d’Ivoire Geographic and Digital Information Center (CIGN) operates under the National Office of Technical Studies and Development (BNETD), an agency that studies, designs, implement and monitor public projects in the country. BNETD areas of expertise include transport, infrastructure, and environment; building and spatial planning; agriculture and GIS; Innovation; Economy, finance, and industrialization; and training. CIGN is the country’s national mapping agency and handles the GIS arms of BNETD. Established in the 60s, CIGN was brought under BNETD in 1992 after it faced some economic issues, even though it was established before the existence of BNETD.

Space in Africa had a chat with Mr Fernand Bale, the Director of CIGN to discuss the operations of the center and their plans. Mr Bale has been the Director of CIGN since 2019. Before that, he was director of Engineering and Project at the National Committee for Remote Sensing and Geographical Information, for six years. Mr Bale Fernand is an engineering graduate from ENSG-Paris, and holds a master’s degree in spatial data analysis, from Sorbonne University in 2002. In 2021, he completed the Program for Management Development (PMD) at IESE Business School, Barcelona. Mr Bale has over 18 years of experience in the implementation of decision support tools based on geospatial technologies and led the Local Organizing Committee of AfricaGIS 2021 Conference, held in Abidjan, from 22 to 26 November.

With about 100 employees and no government budget, CIGN contributes between 7-10% of the annual revenue of BNETD. The revenue comes from implementing geospatial projects for government institutions and the private sector across the country. According to Mr Bale, CIGN is currently working on a national geospatial policy to better implement space application projects in the country and is aiming at further engagement in training, capacity development and innovations. CIGN has implemented an integrated geospatial and statistics framework in Côte d’Ivoire and contributes to the Africa Geoportal in collaboration with ESRI. CIGN gathers datasets that are useful in planning social, economic and government activities with the aim of improving government programs (such as infrastructure development, access to education and healthcare), fighting poverty and climate change and improving the lives of the people.

CIGN recently completed the land use land cover for the entire country and is now discussing with the government to build a structure to constantly update the database to track the evolution of land use land cover across the country. The center is also working with Airbus on Earth observation, maintains a partnership with NASA on spatial geodesy, collaborates with PLACE on drone insights and contribute to the UN Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) project in Cote d’Ivoire. CIGN also maintain collaboration with other agencies, as well as the UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA). “I think partnership is a booster for development. African countries must work together to achieve the growth we desire”, said Mr Bale.

The private geospatial industry in Côte d’Ivoire is still nascent. There are few companies that are resellers of foreign technologies and representatives of foreign companies. there are also a few surveying and GIS companies, as well as drone companies. CIGN is now prioritizing partnership and the capacity development of young people, to further grow its operations.

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