what: the Open Africa project is linking the splendours of Africa in a network of tourism routes from the Cape to Cairo. This vision for Africa has been made possible by integrating leading edge GIS (Geographic Information Systems) technology with the internet. The result is the www.africandream.org website and the route maps that you can access on it.
This means that viewers can interrogate maps down to the finest details of what they want to see and experience, while facilities suppliers and service providers can market their wares in the most cost-efficient and effective manner possible.
Imagine a network of routes linking Africa's splendours in all directions across the continent: the Whale Route at the southern tip of Africa connected to a Pyramid Route in the north, Sea Turtle Route in the east and Gold Route in the west, up the Nile, across the Sahara, along the Atlas mountains, through gorilla forests, into Masai country …the list is endless. Open Africa is making this scenario a reality. The project has systematised the process to create routes and put them into a fully integrated map according to their exact geographic co-ordinates that is available on a real-time basis at the click of your mouse. The process of establishing routes is fully participatory, has no entry barriers, is fast, costs little, and delivers measurable results.
who: Open Africa is a registered not for profit organisation under the patronage of Nelson Mandela, founded and directed by Noel de Villiers. It was established in 1995 with the aim of optimising the synergies between tourism, job creation and conservation, resulting in the concept of Afrikatourism and the development of the Open Africa Project, the enabling system behind the website, and Team Africa.
why: the reasoning behind the concept of Afrikatourism is the uniqueness of Africa's splendours in a world sinking ever deeper into environmental crisis. Africa is one of the last frontiers of unspoilt wilderness, home to peoples of diverse and charismatic cultures with a legendary flair for friendliness and hospitality.
how: used innovatively, the internet and GIS technology can leapfrog Africa to the forefront of tourism development in the 21st century. Similarly, global positioning systems (GPS) used in motor vehicles and cellular telephones are opening up previously unheard of opportunities. Combining and integrating these technologies as Open Africa has done revolutionises the way tourism can be planned and managed effectively.
success story: the first route was loaded onto the African Dream website in February 1999 and just four years later the 50th route is near completion. The list is growing apace, as is the area covered, with the prospect of other African countries coming on board to add to the nine already involved.