Lets start with something basic.Tell us about yourself?
Dr. Mubea’s background is in Geomatic engineering, GIS and Remote Sensing. He has work experience as a professional trainer and expert in geospatial applications. He holds a PhD in remote sensing and GIS from University of Bonn, Germany.
Recently, you moved to RCMRD. What’s your role and how is a typical day at work like?
My role is Capacity Development for RCMRD. I facilitate SERVIR-E&SA activities that develop and increase the capabilities of regional government and other stakeholders on applications of Earth observation and Geospatial technologies.
What led you to GIS and Remote Sensing?
I had a passion for geography while in high school.
What’s your take on the Geospatial practice in the region?
GIS has been growing gradually since early 2002 when we were undergraduate students in Bsc Geomatics in JKUAT. The field blossomed with the entry of Google Kenya in 2007 whom enabled Google maps for East Africa possible. This was followed by the development of apps in java and dot net. Also at the same time, Esri began support for web services through web APIs and it was possible to mash up content from Esri ArcGIS Server with Google maps. Furthermore, the entry of mobile apps helped GIS reach many people across IT/GIS developers to normal users. The notable initiatives can be seen from 2008 by Google (ushahidi mash up), Upande and i-hub among others. In addition, GIS open source such as QGIS has helped GIS reach many people in Sub Sahara Africa ranging from academic institutions to private companies.
I found out that you’ve been lecturing for quite some time. How was life as a lecturer and how different was it from what you do today?
It is good for someone to try out various options in life when you are young. I began as a GIS consultant in some private companies and later ventured into lecturing. In addition, my role as a lecturer was primarily capacity building in the academic arena. This has benefited many people including you (as the reader of this article). Likewise, I developed the Bsc Geomatics and Bsc GIS curriculum for Dedan Kimathi University of Technology (DeKUT) way back in 2010, and we have seen many graduates of the programs since 2014. Moreover, as a lecturer, someone has ample time to do scientific research and also succeed in post graduate studies such as PhD and post doctorate studies. I gained my doctorate from the University of Bonn (Germany) as a result of DAAD scholarships which favour academic institutions and civil servants. Nevertheless, I do the same in my current role as capacity development ((RCMRD) and now broader in terms of geographic extent, that is, Eastern and Southern African region. Furthermore, I plan to extend the role for the whole of Africa (54 countries). Some dreams are valid, how about you?
In general, what’s your view on the future of GIS in the region?
GIS is the future of development. We can see various government institutions embracing GIS even in their respective tenders, enforcement of laws, environment management, and devolution. At the same time, the private sector has seen many GIS start-up companies which are able to compete or complement the existing established GIS companies (e.g. Esri, Google etc). Thus, the future is tagged to collaboration of the various stakeholders so as to ensure all companies survive and problems are addressed using GIS.
From experience, if someone asked “Where do I start if I want to be a GIS expert?” What would be your response?
Someone can start by enrolling in a GIS short course regardless of the academic back ground. GIS has become open to all including environmental experts, policy makers, and even engineering. GIS can be viewed as a tool rather than an academic credential. Thus, GIS as a tool, is a means to an end in solving real world problems e.g. climate change, environmental management, education, planning, decision making etc.
Any concluding remark?
I would like to encourage the readers of this article that it is possible to excel in the GIS field with the help of our Almighty God. It takes patience to excel in any new field either as a GIS student, graduate and/ or practitioner from a different field.