A. Task Team for Africa


Mr. Brahim Atoui (Algeria), E-mail: atoui.brahim@hotmail.fr


Mr. Claude Obin Tapsoba (Burkina Faso), E-mail : institute.geog@fasonet.bf


Members include Chairs of UNGEGN African Divisions


One of the main thrusts since the Eighth UN Conference in 2002 has been for UNGEGN to focus attention on the African countries, in many of which work and progress on geographical names standardization has been minimal.

At the 22nd UNGEGN session in 2004, Peter Raper (South Africa) was invited, as former UNGEGN Chair, to make a presentation on issues relative to Africa.  At this same session, a task team for Africa was established.  At first this was led by Ridwan Brimah (Ghana), but in 2006 the lead was taken over by Brahim Atoui (Algeria), Vice-President of UNGEGN (2002-2012).

Recent and forthcoming activities

The African Organization for Cartography and Remote Sensing (AOCRS); the Regional Center of Remote Sensing for North African States (CRTEAN); the Regional Center for Mapping of Resources for Development (RCMRD); the Arabic Division; the Africa South Division and the French-speaking Division of UNGEGN; the UNGEGN Working Group on Toponymic Training; UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA); the African Union; and the UN Statistics have recently contributed to the revitalization process in Africa.

  • Training courses were offered in Sudan (2002), Mozambique (2004 and 2006), Tunisia (2007), Burkina Faso (2008), Kenya (2009) and Cameroon (2010); and support provided for African participation at a colloque offered in Paris (2007). Plans will be made to hold similar training in the coming years, for instance a course in Madagascar (2013).
  • ECA arranged for Ms. Naima Friha, Tunisia, (Vice-Chair of UNGEGN) to present the Gaborone Action Plan (see powerpoint) to the 6th Meeting of the Committee of Directors General of National Institutes of Statistics, held in Yamoussoukro, Côte d'Ivoire, November 30 - December 2, 2012. See section E vii Geographic Names in the Draft conclusion and recommendations.
  • At the 10th UN Conference held in New York in 2012, Mr. Chukwudozie Ezigbalike of ECA gave a special presentation about the need for geographical names standardization in Africa.
  • At the 26th Session of UNGEGN, held in Vienna in 2011, the UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) gave a commitment to promote geographical names standardization in Africa. In November 2011, ECA organized a workshop hosted by Botswana in Gaborone. As a result, the Gaborone Action Plan (GAP) was prepared in English and French, presented by Ms. Lucy Phalaagae, Botswana, (see Powerpoint) and accepted at StatCom-AfricaIII held in Cape Town in January 2012 (in particular see paragraphs 76, 77 and 78 of the Report). To address the priorities for future planning, the South African Geographical Names Council provided the opportunity for the Task Team for Africa to convene in Johannesburg in April 2012 (Report). Follow-up will continue, to find ways to encourage African countries to develop national geographical names standardization programs.
  • ECA has created and is further developing Africa GeoNyms, a free software and gazetteer program, made available for countries of Africa to use for storage and dissemination of their geographical names data (contact: Yoseph Mekasha).
  • In November 2010, the Africa Central Division met in Yaoundé to rerevitalize activities of the Division.
  • The South African Geographical Names Council co-organized a session on the standardization of geographical names as part of Map AFrica 2010 in Cape Town, 23-25 November 2010.
  • The 25th Session of UNGEGN was held in Africa - at the UN facilities in Nairobi, Kenya, from 5-12 May 2009. The Report of the Working Group was presented as W.P.84. At this time the Africa East Division was revitalized, further interest was noted in some African countries that had participated little in geographical names standardization in the past. A toponymic essay and poem contest for Africa was held in conjunction with the 25th Session of UNGEGN; the names of winners, as well as the Task Team's report on the Session, are included in the UNGEGN Information Bulletin 37 (September 2009). Other initiatives will be planned regarding advocacy of standardization programs in Africa.
  • CODIST-I, organized by the Economic Commission for Africa, was held in Addis Ababa in 2009. It is planned for UNGEGN to have a stronger presence at future CODIST sessions.
  • At the 21st International Geographical Congress held in Tunis August 2008 (www.igc-tunis2008.com), <http://www.igc-tunis2008.com/> UNGEGN held a special session (TSS.8) on the Standardization of geographical names in Africa.
  • Since 2007, efforts have been made in the Africa West Division to ascertain the level of geographical names standardization activity in the countries of the Division, with a view to re-invigorating the work of the Division.
  • The Ninth UN Conference on the Standardization of Geographical Names (2007) passed a resolution supporting the UN hosting the 25th UNGEGN Session in Africa.
  • Africa GIS 2007 was held in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso in September 2007. UNGEGN was represented with a presentation about its operation, the importance of national standardization of geographical names and the need for a structure to handle this in each country. Arrangements were made for geographical names to be on the agenda of future Africa GIS conferences.
  • AOCRS, at its administrative council meeting in November 2007, expressed its intent to cooperate with UNGEGN to hold a training course for West Africa (in Burkina Faso), similar to that held in Tunisia.
  • At CODI V held in Addis Ababa in 2007 under the umbrella of the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), at which time a proposal passed that the next UNGEGN Session be hosted in Africa.
Recent reports