Ghana has joined the elite league of countries with a dedicated National Hydrographic Office after unveiling the much-awaited centre of hydrography at the head office of the Ghana Maritime Authority.
The establishment of the Ghana Hydrographic office is a requirement of the International Hydrographic Organization (IHO) of which Ghana is a member.
The IHO is an inter-governmental technical organization that co-ordinates the activities of national hydrographic offices, sets standards in order to promote uniformity in nautical charts and documents. It also issues international best practices and provides guidelines to maximize the use of hydrographic information from geospatial data, bathymetry, safety of navigation, oil exploration and drilling rigs and many more.
In 2019, Parliament ratified the Convention on the International Hydrographic Organization (IHO).
Speaking at the ceremony to open the Ghana Hydrographic Office (GHO), the Director General (DG) of the GMA, Mr. Thomas K. Alonsi, said the office consolidates Ghana's role in the arena of international hydrography.
He said as a coastal state and a signatory to the International Convention on the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS), Ghana was obligated to provide hydrographic and nautical services for the safety of navigation and the protection of the marine environment.
Mr Alonsi said the National Hydrographic and Oceanographic Committee (NHOC), was formed – as recommended by the IHO - to “formulate national hydrographic standards, develop a database and co-ordinate hydrographic activities to avoid duplication of work by the various agencies.”
He emphasized the “NHOC supported Ghana's efforts for the ratification of the IHO and I am happy to formally announce that Ghana is now a member of the IHO. Through Ghana's IHO membership we have moved from the observer status to become members of the East Atlantic Hydrographic Commission (EAtHC).”
Being a member of EAtHC required Ghana to have a national hydrographic office to serve as the central point for the collation of hydrographic, oceanographic and relevant marine data for the production of nautical charts as well as dissemination of maritime safety information.
The Vice-President of the NHOC, Ing. Isaac Koranteng Yirenkyi, praised GMA for the sense of urgency it attached to getting up the GHO the office set up to facilitate hydrographic activities. "I thought setting up Ghana's hydrography office was going to be possible even by 2025, but here we are; having it unfold before our very eyes in 2020. To have acquired it during this era of Covid-19 makes it a greater achievement," he stressed.
Mr. Yirenkyi who also represents the Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority, said, "As a committee, we will prove Ghana can produce its own charts shortly since this will give us the impetus to go forward. On behalf of my colleagues, I thank GMA for this initiative.
Members of the NHOC who also witnessed the occasion were Nana Adusei Poku, Lead Geomatic Engineer with GNPC, Captain Darlington Newton Akrofi from the GMA, Takoradi office, Captain Adjetey from Regional Maritime University and Dr. Isaac Oppong from the Petroleum Commission.
Also present was Mr. Yaw Antwi Akosa, a Deputy Director General (Finance and Administration), and Ms. Marilyn Eghan, head of Hydrography, both at GMA.
The Ghana Hydrography Office is furnished with high performance supercomputers and powerful workstation laptops, a plotter, and the requisite software. Ghana joins the likes of South Africa, Morocco, Tunisia, Nigeria, Egypt, who are torchbearers on the African continent when it comes to co-ordination of hydrographic data for marine-related decision making.
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