The way mapping promotes Developing Countries

It is well known fact that proper land administration management can boost developing country’s economy. Thus, the international financing organizations like the Word Bank, EU, ADB and others are encouraging the developing countries to conduct land reforms and land registration.

Public and private property, mining concessions, forestry and natural resources cannot be managed without updated maps and spatial Information. In Ghana, which has a total area of about 239,000 square kilometers, there has been no comprehensive mapping conducted since the 1970s. Considering the population growth, the fast urbanization and the massive immigration, is this old data relevant for any decision making? Furthermore, the available data regarding property is referring to four different coordinate systems, a source for disputes and confusion. How can one buy land without being sure regarding its location and legal status?

The base for good decision, almost in any field, is realistic understanding of the situation. Without up to date and accurate spatial information about existing structures, population size, land use, utilities, climate hazards and more, it is almost impossible to plan and control the economy, demography, education and governmental services for the public. Such planning can begin only after a thorough and reliable mapping of the country.

Ghana received a loan from the World Bank and selected OFEK Aerial photography to perform the project by competitive bid between some of the leading actors in this field. Ofek management and staff, derived by their operative culture, were enthusiastic to meet the challenges waited for them in this lovely West African country.  

Ofek’s aircraft first landing in Kumasi

Establishment of a New Geodetic network

In most of the modern countries, property is delineated and registered by the coordinates of its limits. Thus, it is critically important to have a uniform coordinate system that can be apply by every modern survey method (GNSS, digital maps etc.).  Ghana has used 4 different coordinate systems including old admiral maps since it was a British colony, 50 years ago.

When the project started, resources were invested into building a new geodetic grid for the country. To achieve this, a complex fieldwork was needed, including the assimilation of GCPs (Ground Control Points) and benchmarks to the system, which needed to be placed on the ground. These GCPs are the base for the entire mapping.  

This task involved joint forces with a local team that assisted us, amongst other things, to communicate with the local communities and chiefs in order to explain the residents the mapping campaign importance for the country and its habitants. In some cases, the surveyors arrival carrying their strange digital equipment, perceived by the local community as a sign for progress and modernization arrival to their small village.


meeting the community and explaining them the importance of our work for their future life









Looking at the Complete Picture: It Is Now Possible to Plan for the Country’s Progress

As part of the mapping process, we had to identify the public buildings and facilities, attach their names and utilization in order to include it all as part of the newly created Geodatabase. Isolated communities public facilities located at the bush are not always easy for interpretation from vertical imagery. The public buildings have no significant element that helps identify them. The foreign interpreters couldn’t distinguish between a residential house and a school, or between a church and a mosque or between a police station and a clinic. This task required arrival to each community and get assistance from the local inhabitants. The local people were very cooperative and helpful. Their great desire to improve their lives and adopt creative solutions for up scaling the poor facilities usage to accommodate needed public services were emotionally touching. We learned from this exercise, that in Africa, if you really want to understand what you see, you have to experience it. Be there, See it with your own eyes.

The outcome was mapping of 13 large sectors, including heaving information regarding the existence of big communities which required government attention, public services and economic development. This information make it possible to strategically plan for the population’s progress and safety. The government now have the basic data that is required for promoting few major national tasks.   

Establishment of a Proper Educational System for the Village’s Children

The analyses of the map products will serve, among other things, to plan the locations distribution of schools and education centers. Sometimes, a small school originally planned for a small village was, in practice, providing services to a whole city. This was because the education planners had no idea how many people lived in each area. The outcome was that the population did not receive basic services, such as education, which harmed their development. Following the survey, the government started the development of properly sized educational structures for the village children.

School mapped under public property survey in community near Volta river

New Jobs for the Residents

The mapping pointed out were the working people located and what is their main occupation. For example, In Ghana’s north area there is a Shea butter industry. An entire village wanders far and wide to gather the kernels and crack them manually to produce the oil and butter. In such village, a new and advanced manufacturing plant can be built to assist the production of Shea products in a more advanced and industrialized manner which will enhance the traditional occupation while create jobs to the inhabitance.  

North ghana’s shea butter industry

How mapping increase public safety?

Environmental risks are not typical only to industrial countries. Natural disasters risks life and property also in the developing countries.

Natural Disasters Mitigation requires above all risks awareness. Updated maps and accurate topography analysis is the base for demarcation of the risks areas, taking preventive and protective measures and planning first respond actions in case worst scenario happens.

Nasia Nabogo, a large sector in Ghana’s north area, is crossed by the Volta River, one of the biggest in West Africa. 6 countries are sharing the Volta basin and utilizing the water. But, the river which gives life, can also take it. Each time the Upper Volta dam is opened in Burkina Faso, the water rises to a level of 5-to-6 meters and floods vast amounts of land in Ghana. Only in Nasia Nabogo alone it floods approximately 1,300 square kilometers. In these flooded areas, the water will meet human communities, cattle and crops that the non-aware farmers area trying to grow. As the effect of these floods can be predicted, Ofek was asked to conduct accurate mapping of the area’s topography to define where communities have to be warned, crops can be grown and harvested by the poor farmers.

Ofek performed a very high accuracy LIDAR coverage of this area and implemented sophisticated hydrological models that enabled identification of large area that is suitable for farming, for the benefit of all the region population.

LIDAR coverage of the Volta river area


Today, Ghana leaders have better decision making tools. Following the mapping, a process of planning land utilities have been started. The village’s residents have better chance to earn their living in a manner that it is just peddling the streets. New areas useful for cultivation were found. Public services that found to be unsuitable for the population size of those areas can be better planned and developed. Ghana’s government started acting on this matter and benefits the conclusion generated by the mapping process.