News / Africa

Nigerian Activists Google Map Capital City

Nigerian Activists Google Map Abujai
January 30, 2013 10:01 PM
More than a hundred young Nigerians are teaming up with Google to add restaurants, markets, hospitals and other attractions in the Nigerian capital to Google Maps. For VOA, Heather Murdock reports from Abuja that these volunteers see maps as a tool to improve security, reduce poverty and attract tourists and investors.
Nigerian Activists Google Map Abuja
Heather Murdock
More than 100 young Nigerians are teaming up with Google to add restaurants, markets, hospitals and other prominent locations in the Nigerian capital to Google Maps.  Youth leaders say by mapping their city, they could boost the local economy by attracting tourists and investors. They also see maps as a tool to improve security and reduce poverty.
In a training room in Abuja, there are almost as many laptops and smart phones as there are 20-something “citizen cartographers.”  At the front of the room, young men who volunteer for Internet search engine Google wear green and blue tee shirts that say, “map your world,” while the Google Abuja Map-up project director, Oludotun Babayemi, explains how to do it.
In the coming week, this crowd plans to fan out across the Nigerian capital armed with tech devices and ready to upload. Babayemi says the new maps will encourage more people to visit.

“The person I’m talking to can quickly know, ‘This is the number of recreation centers and wildlife you have in your country.’  So it opens your country to the whole world easily.”
He says mapping Abuja and eventually all of Nigeria will also draw foreign investors who may otherwise be unaware of changes in the country.

Google Abuja Map-up project director Oludotun BabayemiGoogle Abuja Map-up project director Oludotun Babayemi
Google Abuja Map-up project director Oludotun Babayemi
Google Abuja Map-up project director Oludotun Babayemi
For Babayemi, mapping Nigeria may also be a matter of life and death.  He says emergency services are slowed by incomplete maps and that when sectarian violence breaks out, it may be better contained if security forces can watch trends online.
The most accurate maps, he adds, come from local people who are experts in their own neighborhoods.

“Once there is the location of where someone is during an emergency you can quickly go in and rescue that person.  And how do you do that?  It means you’ve gotten that information from a particular person on the ground," he says.
Adepoju Abiodun, one of the Google volunteers leading the charge, says mapping Africa could also help governments and aid organizations make better use of the resources they already have.
But, he says, they have already started mapping on a small scale and not everyone is quick to agree. Residents sometimes fear mappers are taking notes and photographs of their area because they plan to demolish neighborhoods and build a shopping mall,  which is a reasonable thing to think in Abuja. Local police also are wary as they look out for men plotting attacks, often on the police themselves.

“Sometimes we have issues with the government," Abiodun says.  "Sometimes you try to map and they go, ‘Why are you trying to take pictures.  What are you guys doing touring around here taking notes?  Are you going to bomb us?'  We get used to it and when I speak to them alone and explain, they understand.”

Abiodun says the goal is to map not just Nigeria, but all of Africa in the next four to five years.

You May Like

Afghanistan, Pakistan Leaders to Hold Icebreaking Talks in Paris

Two sides are expected to discuss ways to ease bilateral tensions and jointly work for resumption of stalled peace talks between Afghan government and Taliban officials

Corruption Busting Is Her Game

South African activist is building 'international online community of thousands of corruption fighters'

Former SAF Businessman Gives Books, Love of Reading to Students

Steve Tsakaris now involved in nonprofit Read to Rise, which distributes books in Soweto, encourages lower-grade primary school students to read

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
by: Oludotun Babayemi from: Abuja, Nigeria
February 12, 2013 4:23 PM
Dear Martin and Franz, am also a member of the OpenStreetMaps, and my team also encourages open data, nevertheless, we have to look at what map is readily available to the people of Abuja, and even Nigeria as a whole - Google Maps is well detailed and has helped lot of us navigate easily. We are already working with the HOT OSM team, and when we are ready to get on OSM, we'll also let the world know - no doubt, both maps are great, and have been changing our world!

by: Dr. S.Rumala from: New York, USA
January 27, 2013 11:12 PM
This great project would help boost Nigeria's economy including better use of resources, and serve as a potential catalyst for development to deprived communities. The government can zoom in on any area of Abuja and other cities and find out where over population and resource intensity is a problem. It would also help combat crime and attract foreign investors. Similar to other Google projects, mapping of interesting places, hospitals, police stations & tourist spots, including offering traffic information and directions from point A to point B will be beneficial to all.
In Response

by: Martin Koppenhöfer from: Rome, Italy
February 05, 2013 9:41 AM
What is the motivation for people to work for free to create proprietary data for a big corporation if they can contribute the same data to a global crowd sourced mapping project which creates open data free to use for everyone, e.g. OpenStreetMap?
In Response

by: Dr. Franz-Josef Behr from: Karlsrueh, Germany
February 01, 2013 11:47 AM
Why not using, supporting, and extending a really free and open collaborative approach like OpenStreetMap?

By the Numbers

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continuesi
Ayesha Tanzeem
November 25, 2015 10:46 PM
One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continues

One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video Islamic State Unfazed by Losses in Iraq, Syria

Progress in the U.S.-led effort to beat Islamic State on its home turf in Iraq and Syria has led some to speculate the terror group may be growing desperate. But counterterror officials say that is not the case, and warn the recent spate of terror attacks is merely part of the group’s evolution. VOA National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more.

Video Taiwan Looks for Role in South China Sea Dispute

The Taiwanese government is one of several that claims territory in the hotly contested South China Sea, but Taipei has long been sidelined in the dispute, overshadowed by China. Now, as the Philippines challenges Beijing’s claims in an international court at The Hague, Taipei is looking to publicly assert its claims. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.

Video Syrian Refugees in US Express Concern for Those Left Behind

Syrian immigrants in the United States are concerned about the negative tide of public opinion and the politicians who want to block a U.S. plan to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees. Zlatica Hoke reports many Americans are fighting to dispel suspicions linking refugees to terrorists.

Video After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against IS

The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Americans Sharpen Focus on Terrorism

Washington will be quieter than usual this week due to the Thanksgiving holiday, even as Americans across the nation register heightened concerns over possible terrorist threats. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports new polling data from ABC News and the Washington Post newspaper show an electorate increasingly focused on security issues after the deadly Islamic State attacks in Paris.

Video World Leaders Head to Paris for Climate Deal

Heads of state from nearly 80 countries are heading to Paris (November 30-December 11) to craft a global climate change agreement. The new accord will replace the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change that expired in 2012.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

Video Creating Physical Virtual Reality With Tiny Drones

As many computer gamers know, virtual reality is a three-dimensional picture, projected inside special googles. It can fool your brain into thinking the computer world is the real world. But If you try to touch it, it’s not there. Now Canadian researchers say it may be possible to create a physical virtual reality using tiny drones. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video New American Indian Village Takes Visitors Back in Time

There is precious little opportunity to experience what life was like in the United States before its colonization by European settlers. Now, an American Indian village built in a park outside Washington is taking visitors back in time to experience the way of life of America's indigenous people. Carol Pearson narrates this report from VOA's June Soh.

Video Even With Hometown Liberated, Yazidi Refugees Fear Return

While the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar has been liberated from Islamic State forces, it's not clear whether Yazidi residents who fled the militants will now return home. VOA’s Mahmut Bozarslan talked with Yazidis, a religious and ethnic minority, at a Turkish refugee camp in Diyarbakır. Robert Raffaele narrates his report.

Video Nairobi Tailors Make Pope Francis’ Vestments

To ensure the pope is properly attired during his visit, the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops asked the Dolly Craft Sewing Project in the Nairobi slum of Kangemi to make the pope's vestments, the garments he will wear during the various ceremonies. Jill Craig reports.

Video Cross-Border Terrorism Puts Europe’s Passport-Free Travel in Doubt

The fallout from the Islamic State terror attacks in Paris has put the future of Europe’s passport-free travel area, known as the "Schengen Zone," in doubt. Several of the perpetrators were known to intelligence agencies, but were not intercepted. Henry Ridgwell reports from London European ministers are to hold an emergency meeting Friday in Brussels to look at ways of improving security.

Video El Niño Brings Unexpected Fish From Mexico to California

Fish in an unexpected spectrum of sizes, shapes and colors are moving north, through El Niño's warm currents from Mexican waters to the Pacific Ocean off California’s coast. El Nino is the periodic warming of the eastern and central Pacific Ocean. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this phenomenon thrills scientists and gives anglers the chance of a once-in-a-lifetime big catch. Faith Lapidus narrates.

Video Terrorism in Many Forms Continues to Plague Africa

While the world's attention is on Paris in the wake of Friday night's deadly attacks, terrorism from various sides remains a looming threat in many African countries. Nigerian cities have been targeted this week by attacks many believe were staged by the violent Islamist group Boko Haram. In addition, residents in many regions are forced to flee their homes as they are terrorized by armed militias. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Study: Underage Marriage Rate Higher for Females in Pakistan

While attitudes about the societal role of females in Pakistan are evolving, research by child advocacy group Plan International suggests that underage marriage of girls remains a particularly big issue in the country. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports how such marriages leads to further social problems.

VOA Blogs