African borders will be in the limelight this Friday, 7 June, on African Borders Day. The aim of this day, which will be observed in several countries throughout the continent, is to raise awareness among African Union member states and their populations of the political, economic and human stakes represented by these lines of markers.
The African Union is inviting its member states to have undertaken the work of delimitation and demarcation of their borders by 2022 with a view to achieving genuine cross-border management and co-operation in Africa.
The issue of borders represents a double challenge: on the one hand, it concerns the political security of States because it has a direct impact on their territorial integrity and sovereignty; and at the same time it concerns economic security because the area along both sides of the border is subject to exchanges and flows (of goods and people).
Thus borders which are defined, mapped and marked out in the field serve as the visible guarantee of a State’s stability and the sustainability of investments.
Although they are well aware of these issues, Governments wishing to address the question of delimiting their borders are often confronted by a number of difficulties:Difficulties in the legal interpretation of earlier texts,
- Difficulties in researching documents,
- Border markers which do not exist or have been moved,
- Lack of human and technical resources to carry out the work.
Within any “border project” geographical information is an important tool which provides a transverse vision of the issues to be dealt with. Governments will often find they need to modernise their geographic infrastructure, notably by setting up more effective geomatics units (technical and IT equipment) and training their personnel in producing and exploiting geographic reference data (geodesy, photogrammetry, photo-interpretation, GIS, cartography etc).
As an independent technical operator, IGN FI provides advice and designs, and supports the National Boundary Commissions or Ministries responsible for tracking and negotiating border marking at every stage of the projects they wish to undertake.