Africa Local Chapter
The OSGeo Africa Local Chapter, which started out as a mailing list in 2005 after AfricaGIS2005, starter a formal establishment process as per Local_Chapter_Guidelines after the successful FOSS4G 2008 in Cape Town. Subsequently we ran a successful FOSS4G Africa in 2017 in Johannesburg. In April 2012 the mailing list had 510 members. By 2019 it had >1000 members. The majority of these are from South Africa but there are substantial numbers from across Africa and several from around the world.
You'll find lively discussion from members across Africa covering technical issues, organising meetings, advocacy, training, work opportunities and more.
The OSGeo Africa Chapter acts as a representative body and a forum for any issue relating to Free and Open Source GIS. By calling ourselves the Africa Chapter we mean to be inclusive to anyone who identifies with Africa. As countries or linguistic groups within Africa generate enough momentum to form their own local chapters, these will emerge and will coexist alongside or under the umbrella of the Africa Chapter. Since most African countries have arbitrary colonial boundaries in any case, why perpetuate them in the borderless world of OSGeo? Perhaps the sub-groupings that make most sense are predominant linguistic groups such as Swahili, Arabic, English, French and Portuguese. As these do emerge, the current 'Africa' Local Chapter could morph into the 'Africa English Chapter' or the 'Southern Africa Chapter'.
Our objectives are to:
- Develop skills
- Advocate FOSS GIS
- Build community
They are spelt out in our Roadmap below.
A RoadMap for OSGeo Africa
What is needed
Some common refrains from amongst the people Tim spoke to at FOSS4G2008:
- we don't know what FOSS GIS products exist
- how do we choose between two or more competing FOSS GIS products that do the same thing
- how can we get training in FOSS GIS
- how do we migrate our existing set up to FOSS GIS
- how can we get (PAID and otherwise) support for FOSS GIS
- where can we get free data
There are many heartwarming success stories of people who have already adopted FOSS in their businesses and municiplities etc.
We already have a 'home' with GISSA so we do not need to form a new association. At the moment that consists of turning the extant GISSA FOSS SIG (Special Interest Group) into the OSGeo Africa Local Chapter, with a seat on the GISSA National Council and access to the GISSA website, meetings and other resources. If the Chapter decides to set up an independent non-profit organisation, such as a Section 21 Company in South Africa, we are quite open to doing that in due course.
People don't know they have FOSS alternatives - we need to make them aware - including by making press releases, press materials, attending industry events, making contact with academic, municipal and state bodies and letting them know we exist and want to collaborate.
We need to get FOSS GIS into schools, and provide open (e.g. creative commons) curricula. In the case of South Africa the National Curriculum Statement on Geography provides some (albeit vague) guidelines on how GIS should be included in the school curriculum (there is a link to this document on the GISSA website: School GIS).
Education and Training:
- We need to train people to use FOSS GIS.
- First we need to train create a tier of experts / power users, second they need to train people in their local areas.
- We need to start this ""soon"".
- We need to do this on a free / cost recovery basis.
- We need to establish suitable venues in each regional center that can be used for training.
- We need to build up sets of Free (unencumbered) data that can be used by anyone
- We need to build up training materials that can be used to ease the process of training people.
If you or your organisation provide any type of professional service already, get your details onto the OSGeo Service Provider Directory.
We need to build a community - this means building up a responsive, friendly mailing list. We also need to curate our area on the OSGeo wiki and build up other online resources that will allow new and established members in the OSGeo AFRICA community to find up to date relevant and helpful information to address their needs.
Skills development strategy
I'm thinking that since we are starting pretty much from ground zero we need to structure things in a 'knowledge ladder':
4 - Becoming a FOSSGIS developer 3 - Becoming a FOSSGIS Expert 2 - Becoming a FOSSGIS User 1 - FOSSGIS Familiarisation
Everyone can be a role player - this list is just a way to keep track of the various people involved - feel free to add yourself!
|Tim Sutton||tim at kartoza.com||Portugal||Kartoza ( http://kartoza.com )|
|Gavin Fleming||gavinjfleming at gmail.com||Johannesburg||Kartoza|
|Jean-Francis AHANDA||jeanfrancisahanda at opensolutions-cameroun.com||Yaounde,Cameroon||Open Solutions Cameroun|||
|Alex Siyengo||alex dot siyengo at gmail dot com||Lusaka,Zambia||GIS Researcher,volunteer at Southern Africa Telecentre Network|||
|Jude Mwenda||judemwenda at gmail dot com||Nairobi,Kenya||GIS Developer,Freelance|||
|Tobi Sowole||tobi dot sowole at gmail dot com||Nigeria,Lagos||Geospatial Services, Consulting, Training|||
|Enock Seth Nyamador||enock dot seth at gmail dot com||Accra, Ghana||FOSS advocate & OpenStreetMap trainer, Ghana|