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NewsInfrastructure unpredictability delays Addis Ababa’s e-location project

Infrastructure unpredictability delays Addis Ababa’s e-location project

Bishoftu will get its Google-map like app for 75 million birr

A project to prepare a digital address system, the Ethiopian version of Google map for Addis Ababa is delayed due to the complicated nature of infrastructure in the capital. The first of its kind project in Ethiopia has kicked off in Bishoftu, while new technologies are being considered for Addis Ababa.

Ethiopia’s Space Science Technology Institute (ESSTI) and the Addis Ababa City Administration have been planning to prepare a digital address (e-location) application for Addis Ababa. However, the unpredictable nature of the infrastructure in the city has been detrimental to registering precise addresses.

“The main problem deterring the project in Addis Ababa is the unpredictability of infrastructure. So, many roads, drainage, towers, underground cables, and other infrastructures are frequently built and demolished. Plus, there is no precise information on the exact location of underground infrastructures,” said Abdisa Yilma, the director general of Ethiopia’s Space Science Technology Institute (ESSTI).

In November, the Parliament decided the ESSTI to merge with the Ethiopian Geospatial Information Institute (EGII), to birth the Space Technology and Geospatial Institute (STGI).

“Therefore, we have to know the precise locations of especially underground infrastructures first. We are utilizing remote sensing, GMSS, GIS, infrared and radar detection instruments to know the underground infrastructures. We also have technology that can detect infrastructures six meters below the surface. The ESSTI already trained officials of Addis Ababa for 25 days, on how to register addresses,” Abdisa said.

For him, to digitize the city, every asset must be registered. “We are discussing with Addis Ababa city administration on how to proceed with the e-location project,” Abdisa said.

Though the project was first planned for Addis Ababa, it is now launched in Bishoftu, a prospective town hosting an Ethiopian air force base, a growing number of businesses, organizations, and emerging middle and high-income residents.

The ESSTI and the Bishoftu city administration have begun digitizing city locations in order to enable precise delivery services for e-commerce. The digitized map will be available as an application usable on smartphones.

The ESSTI signed an agreement with Bishoftu City a few weeks ago. Registering and digitizing locations has already started to be finalized in six months and used as a mobile App.

The process includes registering every address, including institutions, individuals’ residential houses, underground and surface infrastructures, and every part of a city. The digitized map will then be embedded in a smart phone app and used for navigation.

The Bishoftu project is slated to cost 75 million birr, of which 65 million birr is earmarked by the city administration. The rest is covered by the institute, according to Abdisa.

“Once everything in the city is registered, it is given unique codes, before it is turned into an app. This app will be the Ethiopian version of Google map. Ecommerce is unthinkable without such a digital address app. So far, Ethiopia’s ecommerce remains nascent, mainly because there is no digital addressing system. Delivery companies have to rely on drivers and bikers’ personal knowledge of directions and addresses,” Abdisa said.

Other cities and towns are also in the pipeline to get digital address apps, joining Bishoftu.

“Ethiopia has no digital mapping and location system, which is highly affecting ecommerce.  Currently, delivery businesses and people try to use Google Maps, but that indicates only major institutions in a given city. GPS indicates certain locations but does not help to navigate each and every location in a city,” added Abdisa.

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