Nouakchott, the capital of Mauritania, does not have a standardised street addressing system. The city’s streets and boulevards do not have official names and inhabitants must use known landmarks and more recently GPS to get around.
By Salaheddine Lemaizi
The objective of the local ASToN project is to set up a modern street addressing system, integrating a new approach, based on new technologies and citizen engagement.
“This system must be widely adopted by the population to have a strong impact on the city’s development,” according to the Mauritanian team. Nouakchott’s participation in the ASToN project is important as the city’s decision-makers benefit from technical and methodological support to implement important initiatives for the citizens and for urban planning. The new system offers many opportunities and benefits. “It will be a better use of local financial resources and it will improve the quality of urban services,” said the local project team.
Profile of Nouakchott
With a population of 1.3 million, Nouakchott is home to more than a third of Mauritanians. The population density remains low, at 6,383 inhabitants per square kilometre. Nouakchott spreads throughout its outskirts and informal settlements and the city is divided into nine urban districts which are part of the Nouakchott region.
Between 60% to 80% of the population have access to smartphones and access to the internet is rapidly growing. Between 40% and 60% of the city’s population is connected to an internet network, mostly 4G.
The local context is marked by two aspects: firstly, the urban and historical constraints linked to the city’s development and secondly, the opportunities linked to the rapid access to digital tools to develop local solutions for citizens.
The lack of a street addressing system is an issue for local leaders. “This lack of a collective understanding of addresses has a heavy impact on daily activities,” according to the local team. “A street addressing system in all the districts of Nouakchott was introduced in 2001 but was faced with the challenges of illegal dwellings.” The new project was launched in 2020, based on these constraints and foreseeable opportunities.
The objectives of the project
“A smart city effectively uses technology to meet the needs of its citizens,” this is the ambition of Nouakchott within the ASToN project, as summarised by Abdel Malick Fatimetou, president of the Nouakchott region.
In concrete terms, the project aims to lay the foundations of a smart city through this new street addressing system. This system will always be accessible on smartphones. There are two objectives, as Aminata Lo, director of Urban Planning and Development for the Nouakchott region and coordinator of the ASToN project, explained: “The first objective is to create a system that is functional and accessible to all, to the entire population, even illiterate people”.
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This article was commissioned by the ASToN Network and Jamlab Africa