[OSM-talk] Surveying OpenStreetMap in Africa

Mikel Maron mikel_maron at yahoo.com
Thu Jan 22 03:47:42 GMT 2009

I receive an inquiry from a colleague at the UN Office for Outer Space Affairs on the current state of OSM in Africa,
and I wrote up this brief survey in response. For certain many cool activities are missing, so please fill in the blanks.

The results will be shared with UNOOSA directly and blogged.


OpenStreetMap is growing rapidly across all of Africa. 
Mapping is spreading through local mappers, mappers on 
vacation, foreign nationals, and remote mapping using 
satellite imagery. A recent comparison judged the OSM
had the most comprehensive coverage of Africa among
web mapping services, especially in cities.


* Wiki Projects *

There are active wiki projects in Algeria, Burkina Faso,
Burundi, Cameroon, Congo-Kinshasa, Egypt, Ethiopia, Ghana,
Kenya, Morocco, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, South Africa,
Sudan, Tanzania, Tunisia .. and other places no doubt.


Particularly interesting is a project to map the entire Nile.


* UN *

Bo Robert Pederson of UNICEF has been informally mapping
Accra and Nairobi to comprehensive levels, and will be
investigating bringing OSM more directly into UNICEF's
activities. There's strong interest in East Africa in
OSM as a component of the EA-SDI.

In cooperation with the UNJLC, Neil Penman and other 
volunteers from IBM importing UN data sets for Southern
Sudan into OSM. We continue to explore opportunies for
collaboration there.

* Conferences and Mapping Parties *

In September 2008, the FOSS4G conference was held in
Cape Town. Open Geographic Data and OpenStreetMap emerged
as main themes of the conference. Very successful mapping
parties were held in conjunction, including mapping in


Local mappers in Cape Town recently negotiated the release of
all street data held by the Cape Town metropolitan region,
to supplement the already stellar OSM coverage there.
This link is a quick rendering of the newly freed data.


In July 2008, Wikimania (the Wikipedia conference) was
held at the Library of Alexandria in Egypt. OSM was presented
to great reception. A mapping party was held in Cairo, and
over the last six months Egypt's maps have grown extremely

* 2009 *

Already a strong start to 2009, with new initiatives to promote
and use OpenStreetMap in Africa.

DC Based technology consultants Development Seed have active
humanitarian mapping projects using OSM in Zimbabwe, Somalia,
and the DRC; And they are seeking interns to help with the 


The OpenStreetMap Foundation will be distributing donated GPS 
units to mappers in developing countries.


Not yet formally announced, the "Mappers Without Borders" project
will be providing OSM mapping assistance to humanitarian response 
and development projects, particularly in Africa. (As a still 
informal entity, we've recently been active in mapping the Gaza
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