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A Mapping Device for Southern Africa’s Rural Areas

South African startup Abiri is providing digital mapping services in areas Google Maps cannot reach in order to better link rural and peri-urban areas with cities. Launched in 2018 with the mission of creating digital integration to unlock township and rural economies, Abiri uses drones equipped with advanced cameras to map rural and peri-urban areas, and then converts these images into digital maps. The startup, which has so far mapped two small villages and considerable township areas, does this in order to enable easy access for things like emergency services, tourism operators and business travel to these settlements. “During our mapping process we engage communities and explain to them the importance of digital maps and how they can foster change and shorten response time of core services, which would normally find it hard to locate houses and streets in these regions,” founder Tswelelo Piet Mashita told Disrupt Africa. For now, as mentioned above, Abiri has only mapped a handful of settlements, with a total size of about 20 square kilometres, while it has gained over 3,500 active users. In addition to its mapping service, Abiri has developed a commuter feature where users can identify locations of taxi ranks and get directions to them.