As part of a larger project in the Sahel region, the World Bank is seeking to map all public transport in the Mauritanian capital, Nouakchott, and to make this data available to the public via open-source platforms such as OSM (OpenStreetMap) and Mapillary. The project was conducted by the Trufi Association and Daba’Go with the support of OSM Mauritania, the Nouakchott region, the French Embassy in Mauritania and the Union Nationale du Patronat Mauritanien.
Daba’Go was chosen for its expertise in public transport, especially informal transport in African countries. The team was therefore in charge of the project at the regional level, i.e:
- Understanding the transport ecosystem and its specificities
- Recruiting and training the local mapping team
- Ensuring the follow-up of the collection
- Managing partnerships and resources in the field
- Validating the data collected
Previously there was no accurate map, no application, no website. With the great evolution of the city and change of 2019-2020, no organization had an idea even if only global of the functioning of public transport (bus, minibus, cab, mototaxi, triporter…). The best way was therefore to go to one of the main hubs to get information.
In addition to allowing people to get information remotely, the collection of public transport data allows to plan, optimize resources, invest, develop economically the region … We decided to couple this with a collection of POI (Point Of Interest) to enhance the city. A smart asset for the city to match the transport offer with the demand and to ensure an impact at optimized cost. Not to mention the benefits on the travel experience, traffic jams, pollution, safety, tourist and economic attractiveness of the city which should grow exponentially.
In a context of health crisis, the project was carried out by the local OSM Mauritania team and managed by teams in Morocco, Germany, Bolivia, Senegal and Ghana.
The project was carried out by minimizing the costs and exploiting the low-tech and local resources in order to go from officially 12 bus lines and 2 mini-bus lines without any precision on the stops or POI to more than 63 transport lines (bus, minibus, cab…), 454 stops, 1987 mapped points of interest
Finally the project required almost :
- Kilometers traveled: 400
- Hours traveled during the tracing: 55
- Bus and cab routes traced: 59
- GPS tracks: 61
Teams in Bolivia, Germany and Colombia validated and pre-mapped the map via satellite images.
All of this is gathered in an interactive map: https://umap.openstreetmap.fr/en/map/traces-trufi-local-team-nouakchoot_590316#14/18.0816/-15.9734
For the local population “this project is the beginning of a radical change for public transport in Nouakchott,” said Vetah Mohammed el Moctar, a Mauritanian who led the six-member mapping team on the ground in Nouakchott. The mapping project will “definitely change public transport in Nouakchott,” he said. The unprecedented transportation data can help make important decisions about making travel in Nouakchott easier and more comfortable.
A year from now, Moctar imagines that the project’s data will have contributed to the development of public transport in Nouakchott, “if the data has been used by decision makers.” Moctar would like to see the work begun by Daba’Go in Nouakchott extended to a complete digital map of all public transport lines in Nouakchott, “including lines that connect the outskirts of the city to each other, far from the city center.” According to him, his work will especially influence “the route of the daily flow of cars and relieve pressure on many points of the city.”
For the World Bank: “We are in the process of making a diagnosis of the urban transport sector,” explains Fatima Arroyo Arroyo, Senior Urban Transport Specialist at the World Bank. “The work we have done is one of the pieces that is helping us to make that diagnosis.” The diagnosis is an analysis of the different dimensions of urban transport: the institutional level, the operational level, right down to the level of public transport users. The data from Nouakchott “will help to understand which areas of the cities are excluded from transport services, which areas are well served, what are the congestion problems, or other problems, to link all these elements together,” she said.
Ms. Arroyo Arroyo identified several categories of stakeholders who are potential users of the open data and/or the diagnostic that will be produced by the World Bank:
- Government institutions (Mauritanian Ministry of Equipment and Transport, Nouakchott Region…)
- The academic world is also another important stakeholder for the use of these data. “We have had discussions with local universities to use it. This can be a great way to motivate new impactful research.”
- Others: “Traditionally, the public sector has been seen as the stakeholders in the transportation sector. It has been that way for sixty years,” Arroyo Arroyo said. “But over the last 10 to 15 years, what we’ve seen is that more and more players that specialize in the technology industry and the payment industry are entering the sector.” Also transportation operators, transportation unions or associations, the OpenStreetMap community and innovation centers. Transportation operators can leverage the data to easily see where people are traveling, what current transportation options exist, and identify areas of the city that are under-served. “There could be opportunities for them, too, to serve populations,” she says, “and be more strategic in how they develop their business.” With this new mapping data, technology solution providers have the opportunity to provide specialized contracted services to the transportation sector, such as tracking, mapping and apps for transportation users that allow for payment and reservation.
“That’s more for the future,” she said. “But we’re kind of laying the groundwork for a building, helping to build that foundation of innovation.”
In order to enhance the value of this data, to ensure its sustainability and to make Nouakchott an African city ahead in Smart Mobility, Daba’Go has committed to launch its route calculation solution in the city for a limited period of time at its own expense.
For more details, feel free to check out the 3 articles from our partner, Trufi Association, on the project:
- March 6, 2021: Trufi to Map Public Transport in Mauritania’s Capital https://www.trufi-association.org/trufi-to-map-public-transport-in-mauritanias-capital/
- April 12, 2021: Nouakchott’s First Interactive Public Transport Map https://www.trufi-association.org/nouakchotts-first-interactive-public-transport-map/
- May 27, 2021: A “Foundation of Innovation” – Trufi has Mapped Nouakchott’s Public Transport Network https://www.trufi-association.org/foundation-of-innovation-trufi-has-mapped-nouakchotts-public-transport-network/
Daba’Go brought its technical and intercultural skills. Perfect remote recruitment and management of the Mauritanian team to map the capital’s public transportation network. Daba’Go’s knowledge of mapping, experience in application development and familiarity with the local culture contributed to the success of the project.
We were very pleased with the work done by Daba’Go and we plan to work with them in the future when we need knowledge in Africa that also has experience in business development and project management.
Daba’Go was very professional. We worked together with Trufi to digitize the public transportation system in Nouakchott-Mauritania and Daba’Go was very helpful in coordinating the local mapping team.
Their work ethic is impeccable, and they are very easy to work with.
Thank you very much, Daba’Go! You made the project possible