Drivers in selected African countries especially Kenya, South Africa and Ghana can now use Google Maps for directions to their destinations. Sounds awesome. Africa is now getting its fair share of technological transformation across the globe.
I became awestruck when I first visited Europe some five years back and sat in the front passenger seat of a fellow Ghanaian I had visited.
It is a simple story.
I went to this friend’s house by train but he offered to take me back to my hostel with his private car. Going back to my apartment was a great deal for me since I wasn’t used to any other means apart from public transport.
I employed the African system of giving directions but we ended up nowhere. “What’s the street name and house number?” he asked after the fourth or fifth merry-go-round.
“Osloer Strasse, house number 6,” I replied after pulling out my map from my heavy jacket.
He reached out to his mobile phone and pressed some few buttons on the inbuilt navigation system in his car. There and then the location and directions to my hostel was right before me on a screen.
Within five minutes I was right in front of my apartment without telling him turn left and right and right down the street you’ll see a newspaper vendor and blah blah blah…
That’s the power of Google Maps.
Now such system is available in Africa and particularly Ghana. The internet search giant Google last week launched driving directions for maps in Africa. Drivers with GPRS navigation systems or mobile phones with such applications can use Google Maps to get directions to their destinations.
According to the Google Africa Blog: “Well, the wait is over – we’ve recently launched driving directions for maps in Africa! So the next time you are in Ghana driving from Kotoka International Airport to Hotel Novotel in Victoria Borg, Accra or you just want to drive from Nairobi to Kampala, visit Google Maps and allow us to help you get to your destination.
“We are grateful to our active African online cartographers who have helped make our African maps what they are today, through our community mapping tool Google Map Maker. Try out the driving directions today. If anything is amiss, you can correct it in Google Map Maker.”
Google said the addition of this feature is the latest in a series of launches which included local domains for most of the African countries and is testimony to “our focus on improving geographic content in Africa.”
I’ll try it out in a location that I am not so familiar with in Accra and get readers feedback.