Mapper of the Month March 2018: Nathalie Sidibe (Mali)

translation by escada

Please introduce yourself

I am Nathalie Sidibe. I am an activist from Mali, living in Bamako and co-founder of the OSM Mali Community and president of Datatics Consulting.

Nathalie Sidibe

When and how did you discover OpenStreetMap ?

I discovered OpenStreetMap in December 2014 through the Espace OpenStreetMap Francophone project. It is through my involvement in youth associations fighting for the restoration of democracy, good governance and the empowerment of women that I learned about a digital cartography training in Bamako. I went there and was immediately seduced by the project and its possibilities for the development of my country and the world.

How do you map ?

I map all kinds of points of interest: sanitary structures, pharmacies, schools, shops, restaurants and hotels, as well as the buildings, and all the roads in villages and settlements.

POIs in Bamako

Dicovering OpenStreetMap made a huge different in my life. I was a simple activist fighting for the restoration and strengthening of democracy, women’s empowerment and good governance. Today, I am an activist with skills in digital cartography and open source GIS. I became a trainer in digital cartography; people listen to me, I am respected and known nationally and internationally thanks to this. I offer free trainings to students, professionals of state services and private companies in Bamako and the inland of Mali.

I enjoy more and more support due to my engagement in OpenStreetMap and the project strengthens me in my activism.

I map with JOSM given the high cost and poor quality of the internet in Mali. I do data collection on my own and from time to time with a group of volunteers.

How do you collect your data ?

I do my surveys with OSMTracker, OsmAnd and a GPS device.

How do you map ?

Most of the time I map locally, but from time to time I map for HOT.

What is your biggest accomplishment ?

That has to be my contribution to the sustainable development of my country. Indeed, my greatest achievement is to have initiated a considerable number of people (students, civil servants and staff of humanitarian organisations) in the OpenStreetMap project. During those occasions, I was able to share my skills with young people so that they can now use OSM data for different purposes themselves. I am proud to have contributed to the popularisation of the OpenStreetMap project in Mali. I think I can say that all of Mali knows a little more about OSM due to my efforts.

Why do you map ?

I map so I can contribute to the durable development of my country and the world with open data that is freely available. Knowing that this data can be a useful tool in the fight against natural disasters, humanitarian crises, youth unemployment, and help decision-making is my greatest motivation and pride. For me, the production of open data becomes a prerequisite to enhance transparency and good governance.

Mali on Hiking Map with hill shading

What is the biggest problem to contribute ?

For me, that is having internet access. It is and will be the major challenge for awhile.

What are your plans for the near future ?

My mapping related plans for the near future are:

  • creating an Open Geodata platform for Mali. It should facilitate access for all types of users to geographic information about transportation, healthcare and education
  • Deploying a platform I created for women involved in OpenStreetMap and in ICT so that they can be connected and undertake joint projects.
  • Initiate an annual award project for women who are committed the OpenStreetMap and hopefully this will attract other women to the project.

Do you have contact with other mappers ?

I have contact with mappers from different countries on the African continent, as well as in the rest of the world. Together with people from West-Africa we realise some common projects.

Do you use OpenStreetMap yourself ? How ?

Of course, I use OpenStreetMap to create maps of the areas where I operate, and to illustrate some of my articles and comments. Actually, I am preparing a new map on female leaders in Mali and the areas in which their organisations operate.

I am also managing a mapping project on the actors of digital innovation in Mali. This project is called Carteinnov. It was initiated in 2017 and is financed by the Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie in 14 African countries, including Mali. It runs in those 14 countries with the support of the Association les Libres Géographes.

From time to time I also make maps for people that need them.

At the moment, my activism is strongly tied to OpenStreetMap. I rely a lot on OpenStreetMap to make maps of the areas where we do our interventions. Those are at the areas where woman face a lot of gender related violence. In fact, I put the knowledge I acquired through mapping at the service of the protection of women’s rights and their development. This is a cause that is important to me and that I want to support further in the years to come.


To conclude, is there anything else you want to mention ?

First of all, I wish to stress my satisfaction of having discovered OpenStreetMap, because this tool has strengthened my leadership, it has changed all my life. It also gave me the opportunity to appeal to women and girls all over the world to discover and engage in OSM because this tool can contribute to their empowerment. I also appeal to donors to support our work, especially in Mali. Our activity is directly related to their financial support for development projects in our Sahelian regions. This tool undeniably contributes to the fight against corruption and the appropriation of projects by the local population.