Needs and Challenges for the Application of GIS in Developing Countries: The Kenyan experience

The use and application of GIS in developing countries, particularly continental Africa, is still an exclusive domain of just a few elites. The situation is further exacerbated by the fact that GIS application is a relatively recent technology in the continent. As such, urban planning has largely been done without considering GIS. This paper looks at Kenya’s urban planning in view of the infrastructural pressures exerted by the high number of people who migrate from rural to urban areas. The recent demolition of residential houses and business premises within the country in order to provide space for the expansion of existing roads or construction of new ones are discussed. The paper also points out planning dilemma that face the city council of Nairobi, Kenya’s capital city, in the light of rapidly increasing urban population. In view of all these urban planning challenges, the paper discusses the role of GIS application in future urban planning in Kenya. The paper concludes by identifying GIS needs such as participatory GIS planning, a skilled and stable human resource base among others. In an attempt to mainstream GIS application in developing countries such as Kenya, the paper puts emphasis on institutional networking and linkages as being among key areas for future co-operation.
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