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GSDI 6 Conference From Global to Local Stream 2 Implementing SDIs Budapest, September 2002




    Branko. I. Cavric, PhD

    University of Botswana,

    Department of Environmental Science

    PO Box 70424, Gaborone, Botswana

    Phone: +267 355-2110; 584-596

    Fax: +267 584-597

    e-mail: &


The main characteristic of the implementation of GIS technology in Botswana is localised

    arrangement of resources in different government agencies. After the first enthusiasm shown in

    late 80’s, and practical results achieved in the middle 90’s, the efficiency of GIS systems on

    the country global level has been substantially reduced. The expected benefits in better

    decision-making and managing, using GIS tools have not achieved its maximum. Advances in

    IT technology evolved faster than the institutional and organisational capacities of different

    GIS users able to absorb them. In the absence of critical user mass, an efficient institutional

    and organisational setting for the future implementation of GIS technology is under serious

    threat. The aim of this paper is to give a brief guideline for GIS decision makers how to

    improve GIS diffusion based on human and organisational factors.


    The development and implementation of geographic information systems (GIS) by

    different government, para-statal and private organisation worldwide, shows enormous

    progress in last two decades. However, the most of these positive trends in GIS global arena

    has rapidly advanced only in developed countries. Unfortunately, the third world societies

    did not have opportunity for a steady rise of GIS initiatives and technological advancements

    similar to their developed counterparts. Paul (1986) argues that nowhere is the need to

    manage both resources and information more acute than in developing countries, where

    poverty and underdevelopment have created a vicious cycle whereby those living directly

    from this resource base are, at the same time, wreaking such devastation on this resource


    For example in many African countries GIS adoption, diffusion and utilisation of

    spatial technologies has proceeded at relatively lower rate. A little attention has been paid to

    improve current situation along the line of flexible approaches and efficient organisational

    frameworks. The implementation of GIS has been restricted by numerous factors such as

GSDI 6 Conference From Global to Local Stream 2 Implementing SDIs Budapest, September 2002

    financial, political, technical, technological, educational, organisational, human behavioural, etc. The most common explanation of GIS unsuccessful stories was covered under umbrella of financial, technical and staffing obstacles. Even in situations with secured funding, HW/SW facility donations and organised training programmes, initial efforts to establish GIS units in different governmental departments have not been always beneficial.

    In regard to this a number of pertinent questions have arisen opening dilemmas about

    organisational settings and readiness of human crew to accept and apply GIS novelties performing daily duties and supporting decision-making process. Only few researches pointed out the problem of human familiarisation and organisational frameworks in which newly established GIS units were supposed to function. Efficiency and effectiveness as criteria to evaluate how GIS may affect organisational performance have not been taken on board. In contrary GIS have not been recognised as a way to minimise the use of the financial, staff, space, and time resources needed to produce the same level of output or increase productivity using the same level of input (Budic-Nedovic, 1999).

     Dependency between the successful use of GIS technology and a number of personal, organisational, and institutional factors has been widely discussed (Azad 1990; Campbell 1991; Croswell 1991; Campbell 1992; Brown and Brudney 1993; Budic and Godschalk 1993; Onsrud and Pinto 1993), but unfortunately these findings were not applied in changing GIS status within comprehensive political and socio-economic African milieu. The problem of researching and highlighting personal, organisational, and institutional factors in African GIS communities is still pending. Until it is resolved, the current GIS outcomes will be only recognised through mapping production, pore networking, duplication of data and efforts, organisational disharmony, unnecessary spenditures and unreliable decision making about allocation of natural, human and financial resources.

    The way forward is to give an extra stimulus through initiation of research studies on

    organisational and human aspects involved in risky business of introducing GIS into different government machineries throughout the African continent, following common principles and schemes. The outcomes of such research initiatives can influence crossing gaps, which are stopping majority of existing GIS users to enjoy full commodities of GIS adoption in their organisations and working places.

    The challenge of improving organisational and human GIS agenda for its better

    implementation rests firstly on our better understanding of the organisational structures and human behaviour in situation when the new technology is acquired. Budic (1995) argues that two simultaneous processes occur during the incorporation of GIS technology in local governments: innovation process and the process of organisational change. In African

    context the first phenomenon can be traced without serious hassle because most of the people are fascinated and impressed with computerised environs. But the second process can show very rigid consequences due to borrowed administration models from former colonial powers or traditional tribal authorities that are still constraining modernisation and faster socio-economic development in all African countries.


GSDI 6 Conference From Global to Local Stream 2 Implementing SDIs Budapest, September 2002

    In such combination better outcomes of GIS adoption can be only expected if there is more flexibility in gathering information about technology (not exclusively reserved for

    decision makers and bosses), followed by analysis of organisational needs, and finally

    calculating cost and benefits associated with the new technology. In the same time the factor

    of personal animosities or acceptances towards innovations can heavily influence individual

    and small group reactions to support or refuse GIS technology. According to Lewin (1952)

    this process can be analysed through the following stages: a.) unfreezing, b.) moving/change

    and c.) refreezing. It is normal that any organisational set-up will experience a “disturbance”

    with initiation of an innovation and leaves a temporary achieved equilibrium. In the same

    manner GIS implementation process reflects organisational response/reaction to the

    innovation; and finally after the needed change is achieved, the organisations settles into

    routine and a state of new equilibrium (Budic, 1995).

    Some organisational structures can be very prone and vulnerable to changes, and due to this failures in introducing new technologies are evitable. It is advisable that two major

    aspects of any organisation must be thoroughly studied and covered, before technology

    transfer takes place (King & Kreamer, 1985). The first phase of investigation should

    highlight characteristics that can influence change in organisational stability. A multiple

    background on organisation mission, structure, resources, operations and social relations

    should be conducted. This will help to assess the significance of expected change and human

    behavioural situation that can be crucial for sharing and development of GIS and data bases

    by various producer and user organisations (Budic-Nedovic & Pinto, 2000). In most of the

    African GIS communities this stage has not been conducted and approved, and as a logical

    consequence organisational confusion takes over.

    The second stage of organisational research usually deals with motivations for incorporating GIS technology, with recognised gap in organisational performance as the most

    common motivation behind organisational engagement in adoption of innovations (Zaltman 1973; Feller and Menzel 1977; Rogers 1983). Motivation is always important for

    smooth implementation, and usually is very high at the beginning. Once, when technology is

    acquired motivation curve is going down, before people have practical touch and produce the

    first GIS outcomes. Actually this is a crossroad point, and once when daily duties start to be

    performed by aid of new GIS facility motivation curve is again on rise.

    In the findings presented in this paper intention was to examine and underline some important organisational and behavioural facts that influenced GIS development in Botswana.

    As a step forward our objective was to sensitise Botswana GIS community and responsible

    authorities about organisational and human restriction for the future expansion of GIS

    capacities which are in this moment under serious threat. We are hoping that this paper can

    contribute towards development of brief guideline for GIS implementation improvements

    based on human and organisational factors. A conceptual framework presented here draws on

    broader literature and analysis of local situation and prevalent conditions.



GSDI 6 Conference From Global to Local Stream 2 Implementing SDIs Budapest, September 2002

    The information technology (IT) in Botswana has been significantly developed along with common economic progress. The country has been well exposed to the international computer market and information revolution from the very early stages. The main role was allocated to the Government Computer Bureau (GCB) founded in 1966 as a special unit of Accountant General. In period from 1966-92, the introduction of IT into governmental agencies has gone through several stages: from accounting machines and card tabulators, over the first ICL mainframe computers (model 1901/72), and the ICL/80 series 39, to the introduction of mini and micro computers in all government agencies.

    Today, GCB is an independent service department of the Botswana government as a part of the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning (MFDP). Its role has been changed from the advisory, research and design service in the period of 1970-80, to becoming the main co-ordinator of all IT activities in the country. At present, GCB serves several information systems (IS) such as: IS for car registration; personal management system for the Directorate of Public Service Management (DPSM); police IS with records on crime details; comprehensive stock control, accounting and management system; payroll; foreign affairs and taxes IS.

    In the period of last 10 years, GCB has been requested to introduce specialised IS such as GIS to start catching up with global trends. There were several initiatives involving significant investments in different government ministries and agencies. Some pilot projects on GIS development in various disciplines have come out. Some workshops on the

    implementation of GIS have been conducted, and a GIS consultancy from USA (Associates in Rural Development, Inc.) has completed the first report project aiming at assisting the Government of Botswana in laying the groundwork for the effective implementation of a national GIS (Zhao and Selemogwe, 1993). Almost, in the same time the first GIS training programmes have been established at the University of Botswana under the auspices of the Department of Environmental Science and Civil Engineering.

    During these “first prosperous years” the use of GIS in Botswana has proliferated mainly

    due to financial and technical support from international organisations. Various agencies of the United Nations have been engaged in the introduction of GIS technology in Botswana. The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) based in Nairobi and Geneva helped several government agencies through the global resource information database (GRID) and several scholarships have been secured through United Nations Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO).

    In addition a very informal group, the GIS Users’ Group was started in mid 1989 to

    discuss the GIS issues and to provide guidance to the enthusiasm for GIS/LIS that had developed. The broad affiliation to the group individuals in their unofficial capacities provided a very good forum for discussing a wide range of ideas and problems related to GIS/LIS. Its affiliates included personnel from donor agencies (USAID, SIDA) international and local NGOs (IUCN, The Kalahari Conservation Society), many GOB departments

    including those who represented various departments on National Committee on Cartography and Remote sensing (NCCRS), and people from private sectors (Nkwambe, 1993).


GSDI 6 Conference From Global to Local Stream 2 Implementing SDIs Budapest, September 2002

    Since then, many further GIS initiatives have been taken in isolation and without necessary synchronisation and co-operation. However, the key players in Botswana

    Government administration did not have proper understanding of principal factors for

    successful GIS implementation (e.g. flexible organisation, application development,

    continuous staff training and motivation, technical and technological standardisation).

    Individual efforts in designing departmental GIS installations have not been successful due to the lack of systematic approach. To date, many agencies that have acquired GIS SW and HW

    have not yet yielded comprehensive results and guidelines for better GIS utilisation internally, and in the country as a whole. All the time an umbrella for unification of various GIS efforts and campaigns was missing part of chain.

    Today, after almost a decade of battling with basic prerequisites for better GIS status, networking and smooth GIS data flow among different departments are still utopian dreams.

    For most of local users GIS is recognised only as an exclusive tool for cartographic

    production, contrary to its numerous other important functions like spatial analysis, data base management, decision making support, visualisation, multi-media, WEB communication,

    virtual reality, etc. For example, in Botswana’s practice its role as decision-making tool was

    not so popular amongst conservative decision makers (politicians, tribal leaders, ministry

    officials, departmental directors) who are comfortable with less sophisticated and

    controllable decision making instruments than GIS.

    Unfortunately, in this moment only few institutions are really concerned with future countrywide GIS prospect. An old idea about the establishment of National GIS Centre is

    still floating if there is serious intent to support rationalisation, concentration and

    standardisation. Therefore, it is needed to raise new awareness around common and

    individual interests, having in mind available resources and capacities, Botswana’s

    geographical extent, population size, political and socio-economic climate. Definitely, too ambitious and optimistic approaches based on “diamond booming” need revisions and

    replacement with more realistic, flexible and sustainable visions, especially in today’s

    vulnerable world.

    In conclusion about existing GIS profile, it is evident that beside the technical challenges, most of the current GIS problems in Botswana are related to organisational, institutional, and human factors. The technical nature of GIS goes against the preferences of the conservative and bureaucratic government officials. The popularity of GIS as a computerised decision

    making tool is very low. Most of decision makers are more comfortable with data presented

    in hard copy format and contained in often-voluminous reports. General awareness about

    GIS, its benefits, and potential is low. There are few opportunities to learn about GIS and to demonstrate to the decision makers, directors, and managers the utility of GIS. Being

    uninformed and unexposed to GIS, the policy makers and agency administrators rarely know

    how to take advantage of GIS and are often slow in initiating GIS projects and installing GIS facilities in their working environments. For most of the users even within GIS community

    the meaning of GIS is closely related to nice plotted maps only (Cavric, Ikgopoleng, Budic-

    Nedovic, 2000).


GSDI 6 Conference From Global to Local Stream 2 Implementing SDIs Budapest, September 2002


    Research Questions

    In order to find out the extent to which GIS is implemented in Botswana, the following

    research questions were addressed in the survey to provide baseline data:

? Whether GIS is used in development planning?

    ? Whether the various stakeholders use GIS in decision-making processes?

    Research Design

    The research was designed to capture information from stakeholders presumed to be

    using GIS in their working environments. The design covered government departments,

    corporate organization and private companies. The main aim was to capture divergent views

    about the technology as much as possible.

The sampling frame and sampling strategy employed in the survey

    Gaborone, the capital was considered an important research area because most

    government departments using GIS are within the ministries, which are in the city. All the

    Headquarters of Corporate Organization and almost all private companies do business in the

    Capital. A stratified sampling method was used to represent all the stakeholders. Three

    stratas were developed i.e. governments departments, corporate organization and private

    companies. For government departments stratification was done based on the total number of

    GIS registered user departments. For other groups a random sample was done in each strata

    to make a representative sample.

    Data collection procedures

    A mail interview method was used, questionnaires were sent to government

    departments either through surface or electronic mail. For Corporate Organization and

    Private Companies formal presentations were done first as a pilot study to establish the extent

    to which the technology has been applied and it was later followed by a questionnaire survey

    similar to the one used for government departments.

Data Analysis

    This is the fundamental stage of research. The questionnaires were coded for the

    SPSS computer programme and the data was analyzed.


    Rate of GIS diffusion


GSDI 6 Conference From Global to Local Stream 2 Implementing SDIs Budapest, September 2002

    The growth in the use of computer based GIS in Botswana came with a group of both government and private GIS users who tried at beginning to come together with the principal

    aim of constituting a coordinating body. Their efforts were culminated in the commissioning

    of a study “ an assessment of country wide GIS potential in Botswana”. Although, there was

    an evidence of large investment especially amongst government departments in GIS

    technology, there was less evidence that the technology is functioning satisfactorily and

    contributing to national development.

    GIS information is still fragmented amongst different government departments despite the need to establish a National GIS Center, which has long been recommended. The

    research has also established the main constraint as lack of coordination or networking of

    GIS user departments. There is duplication of data; there are no mechanism in place to share

    geographic data amongst different departments.

    The diffusion of GIS in Corporate Organization is still in its infancy; most of the organizations do not have the software for GIS let alone know its importance in their

    working environments. They only rely on base maps which are outdated, compiled by

    different agencies with different map scales. Different geo-coding systems also make it

    difficult to integrate with their systems.

    Most private companies especially those in the consultancy industry use a lot of GIS like in government departments. They have GIS specialists. The face the same the problem

    information sharing. They argued it would be difficult for them to share information because

    they are competing with one another for consultancy jobs.

    Some latest improvements came with several initiatives by the Department of Surveying and Mapping around the “National Atlas” and “Integrated Geo-Information

    System Project.” Using a different thematic maps with enclosed text, statistics, photographs

    and explaining pictures, the National Atlas of Botswana can be a good starting point for the

    formation of national Geographic Information Data Base System.

    The idea around Integrated Geo-Information System is to automate a variety of analogue products and transform them into digital form suitable for different users. The

    complete computerization, automation, collation, structuring and formatting of these data sets

    is the basis of the vision of the Department in the new millennium (See Chart 1).

    Human Problems

    Few managers within government departments see the benefits of GIS tools. However but many remain disillusioned with the look warm success of the application to the general

    improvement of information management across information spectrum of their organization.

    Little effort has been spent on transforming data into information for decision making. In

    some cases organizations that have a potential for using GIS are headed by people who are

    not up to date with the latest technology.


GSDI 6 Conference From Global to Local Stream 2 Implementing SDIs Budapest, September 2002

Chart 1. Botswana Integrated Geo-Information System (GoB, 2001)

    In most of the cases these people are also decision makers and they have in the past carried out decisions that have stifled the introduction of GIS within the respective

    departments. The implementation of GIS by individual departments and other stakeholders is

    therefore more of a trial and error exercise and has resulted in poorly designed digital

    topographic databases because organizations are eager to show results even with limited

    accuracy. Whilst users are demanding more digital data, useless data is generated and the

    hardware and software becomes obsolete in the process.

    The research shows that there is a need to promote among decision makers the fact that GIS is not only drawing and a storage mechanism of spatial data but also a very good

    platform for spatial analysis. The promotion may be done through presentation of real world

    scenarios where a GIS based approach to analysis can be able to be compared to

    conventional techniques, hoping that decision makers may see it necessary to accelerate the

    introduction of GIS in their respective organizations.

    Organizational Problems

    The successful application of GIS technology within an organization can be largely dependent on how well that tool is integrated within the broad information environment of

    that organisation. It has been established that most departments lack coordination of sharing

    different geographic information, GIS data is only used by one unit within a department.

    The other factor lies with strong leadership in an organization. GIS user departments have a weak leadership in integrating GIS within and outside various departments, there is

    also no institutional arrangement to update data after it has been created. As decision making


GSDI 6 Conference From Global to Local Stream 2 Implementing SDIs Budapest, September 2002

    needs up-to-date information, the system will be useless if its data is not updated on a regular basis.

     For example the national mapping body which is the Department of Surveys and Mapping has had to undergo a dramatic shift in it’s services from the production of

    conventional analogue maps to the creation of digital topographic databases. This has compromised mapping standards and has resulted in some departments opting to collect their own GIS data.

     Another research finding is that a various government department, parastatals and private companies use GIS and these organisations see to understand GIS differently. The prevalent perception within government and some parastatals is that a GIS is drawing and data storage tool, whilst the private sector sees the potential of GIS as an analysis and data management tool. The reason for these divergent views is that the various stakeholders operate in isolation from one to another and they do not have a co-ordinated GIS strategy.

    A National GIS strategy is not developed and is essential in this regard because it will

    compel organisations to not only avoid the duplication but rather to adhere to the same GIS standards of data collection, data structure and organisations, data storage and a good arrangement for the exchange of data. The research also shows that there is a need for standards and this can only take place if there is a proper co-ordination between the government, parastatals and the private sector. Standards will ensure that the data is generated is consistent in terms of accuracy. Furteht standardisation will ensure that different parties generate data that can be exchanged and combined without any discrepancies since their data adheres to the same standards.



    This article provides numerous details about burning issues and obstacles concerning

    GIS expansion in Botswana. It critiques GIS diffusion from organisational and behavioural angles trying to suggest acceptable solutions for future improvements. Plotting on numerous foreign cases and domestic expertise, the remaining portion of article intents to describe possible recommendation in a comprehensive manner which can satisfy GIS needs in Botswana and wider African frontiers experiencing the similar range of implementation difficulties. One of the reason d’atre for this, is the scarcity of local research on the topic, particularly with regard to expected impacts of GIS on organisational and human performances in different institutional frameworks (e.g. government, parastatal, academia, private, NGOs, tribal)

Recommendations concerning Institutional Organising

    An excellent starting point for future guidance can be a set of questions that sounds

    very provocative even today. These questions have been raised in the Report on a Mission to the Central Statistical Board of the Government of Mongolian People’s Republic (UNCHS,


GSDI 6 Conference From Global to Local Stream 2 Implementing SDIs Budapest, September 2002

1987). According to Cartwright (1991). Their application in Botswana or any other African

    country can be very useful especially as an additional clarification of analysed problems in

    pertinent GIS diffusion. If some of them have been answered on time we could have may be

    different situations and better GIS prospects. The following among them need special

    attention in the light of adequate GIS organisational set-up, and without them it is very

    difficult to design and organise an optimal, operational and efficient GIS system:

    ? Who is going to use it? many people or a few, specialist or non-specialist, technical or

    administrative staff, etc.

    ? What will it be used for? research or management, retrieval or processing, screen

    displays or printer output, etc.

    ? Where it will be used? only at headquarters or in the regions (districts) as well, only

    at fixed office sites or out in the field or even mobile locations, etc.

    ? When will it be used? occasionally or frequently, for short periods or long periods at a

    time, etc.

    ? How it will be used? in stand alone use or in connection with other equipment and (if

    in connection) whether it needs to be on-line or off-line and in real time or not, etc.

    ? Why is it being used in the first place? is it in order to achieve greater speed, or more

    accuracy, or better service to the public; or is it for something else like helping to

    promote regional development, etc.

    The lessons learned from Mongolia can be easily applied in Botswana through

    organising large scale survey encompassing all GIS users that are likely to share different

    data sets and follow similar data collection, processing and dissemination procedures. The

    benefits of such large-scale survey are that it can serve as GIS manual for all existing and

    potential users. All of the above question are basic starting point for anybody who would like

    to be involved in GIS game.

    Similar approach have been applied in one of the latest Budic-Nedovic and Pinto (2000)

    research. They organised face-to-face interviews all around the USA in order to determine

    motivations for the GIS and data-base sharing activities, organisational structures and

    policies employed, relationships developed, and the key events in the joint GIS history. To

    elicit responses systematically and to understand better the situation their protocol included

    open-ended questions on:

? History and reasons for the joint GIS activities.

    ? Participants

    ? Structure, that is organisational forms, information flow, joint oversight, and


    ? Extent of the relationships.

    ? Formalisation of the relationship by contracts and agreements.

    ? Rules, procedures, and policies for database sharing with regard to standards,

    development, maintenance, ownership, and use.

    ? Financing and incentives.

    ? Assessment of outcomes; and

    ? General organisational and Interorganisational background.


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