A project by the Department of Trade and Industry’s Regional Spatial Development Initiative (RSDI) will soon provide free online maps to help attract investors to Southern Africa.
The RSDI, which is being implemented for the dti by the Development Bank of Southern Africa, provides technical assistance to help attract investors to specific development corridors. The project, under the leadership of programme co-ordinator Graham Smith, has identified areas where investment in flagship projects and infrastructure is likely to catalyse further investment and growth.
The current focus is on Angola, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Mozambique and Tanzania. Projects include the Maputo Corridor, where Billiton’s Mozal aluminium smelter was a flagship project, and the Trans-Kalahari route between South Africa and Namibia.
“Providing good spatial information has always been an important part of the initiative,” says GIS Project Manager Zukhanye Mayekiso, “but making that information easily available has been a challenge. It’s been stuck in spreadsheets, reports and other static documentation. Technology improvements in the past few years have now made it possible to bring all that information together in a single map-based web interface.”
“The online maps will show several different levels of information,” says Mike Steyn of service provider Aspire Solutions, which is building the map portal and database. “Basic info like geography, hydrology, roads, power and IT infrastructure will be available to all. Stakeholders and partner organisations will also have access to more detailed information including existing and planned projects, trade flows and master plans.”
As well as mapping existing investment projects and infrastructure, the interactive map will include links to photographs, documents and other media. Users will also be able to submit their own project profiles for inclusion on the map.
“Maps are a very powerful way to organise and present information,” says Mayekiso. “Because humans are primarily visual thinkers, we are able to take in much more information from a map than we are from a written document or set of tables. This project will help to showcase the RSDI’s work to the world.”