01.04.2014 Blog, Clients No Comments

Utilities: Electricity Provider Evaluation


Recently, Geo Gecko was contracted to evaluate the GIS department in Uganda’s National Electricity provider, UMEME. With the company expecting exponential growth from 2015 onwards, GIS will play a critical role in the management all of its customer and infrastructure data. Spatial considerations have a massive impact on such a company. From locating new customers to sourcing new corridors for UMEME power lines and assets, GIS will play key role in the company’s expansion.

With an already highly competent team of GIS users, Geo Gecko created a plan for UMEME to expand its geo-database and analysis capacity, ultimately being able to connect all assets to customers and vice versa. Recommendations were made, and UMEME decision makers have already responded with plans to connect all departmental databases seamlessly to the GIS managers system. This will enable near-real time mapping and the ability to report on all of its infrastructure, assets and customers, via a map interface, on ‘what’ and ‘where’.

Exciting stuff!


by Nathaniel Williams, Geo Gecko



04.11.2013 Blog, Jobs No Comments

Job Post- Research Coordinator

Geo Gecko is looking for a short term research coordinator in Uganda.

The Research Coordinator will coordinate and manage a field data collection and entry exercise. It is a large scale comprising of more than 5000 surveys. The survey will start in late November. It must be completed in 30 days. The survey sites are dispersed around Uganda. Methodology and surveys have previously been generated.

The candidate must be available to start before the 20th of November. S/he will have eight years’ experience managing large surveys/ research programmes. S/he will have extensive experience in Uganda.

The realisation of this role will depend on a tendering process which is not yet concluded.

To apply send a CV and a brief cover letter to with ‘research coordinator’ in the subject line as soon as possible. Deadline is the 7th November 2013. All correspondence to the same email address.

02.11.2013 Africa maps, Blog, Maps No Comments

CSR: Rhino Mapping


The war on poaching is an old one and a current one. Today, rhinos are on the front line. South Africa will lose 800 this year. Globally the rhino population is down 97.6% since 1960. The appetite for rhino horn in Asia seems insatiable. Uganda lost all its rhinos under the Idi Amin regime… they came back.

The Rhino Fund brought them. Now they are flourishing and reproducing. Managing the 7000 hectares of savannah, the 80 rangers and the constant threat of poachers is a challenge.

To assist the Rhino Fund, Geo Gecko agreed to create a map of the sanctuary. The first step was to train a ranger in data collection. The ranger is now training his colleagues to collect data relevant to the work of Rhino Fund. Geo Gecko will receive the data and then map out the park. This will act as a powerful planning tool to assist with tasks such as planning ranger patrols.

Rhino-pic-CThis project is part of Geo Geckos CSR programme. Other beneficiaries include:

  • Responders to the political and humanitarian crisis in Kismayo (blog post)
  • AfriPads, Uganda (site)

Many thanks to the Amuka Lodge ( for providing excellent accommodation during our stay!


30.10.2013 Blog, Humanitarianism/Devt, Maps No Comments

What is GIS?

So what is this GIS thing that people talk about? Go ahead and google it!


For a tool which depends so much on visuals, the definition of GIS is mind-numbingly plain, textual and boring. Wait I hear you say, how about the much loved GIS sandwich that really explains everything and which we all love so much. Yep, that is a great one. The US military scientist who came up with that one back in 1982 must be very proud the GIS world needed no improvement to his work of art.

Well Geo Gecko decided to bring a bit of clarity to the chaos and created this What is GIS 1.0 Infographic. Take a look. Comments are welcome. 2.0 is in the works.





22.10.2013 Africa maps, Blog, Humanitarianism/Devt, Maps No Comments

Scoring Africa

Check out this really nice interactive map made by our friends in Great Business Schools. It is a nice interactive tool which offers a few different ways of viewing the multiple indicators that are used to assess the continent’s development.

I like it because it’s short on the exact figures (many target audiences don’t really need to know this and for those who do, it’s available from other sources), its visually appealing (nice pleasant colors), the viewer can quickly identify the pattern (click on HIV/aids or literacy), it’s quick and smooth interactivity motivates continued use.

22.08.2013 Africa maps, Blog, Humanitarianism/Devt, Maps No Comments

Landlocked into poverty


Landlocked countries which are surrounded by states with poor infrastructure are stuck in a poverty trap, according to Paul Collier, the renowned development economist.

The stats are hard to argue with. 38% of the worlds bottom billion live in landlocked countries. Looking at the map to the left, the vast majority of landlocked countries are classified as developing. 16 African states do not have coastal access.

This prevents development. Why? Trade. Simply trade.

 To develop you need to trade internationally, importing and exporting. You need roads and rail to get to the coast and then you need sea ports to access overseas markets.

The transport infrastructure in Africa is notoriously weak. Crossing borders is time consuming and expensive. Those parts that are available are often unable (or unwilling) to deal with higher capacity.

The lack of alternate routes and ports means that trade is vulnerable to shocks. Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Dr Congo and south Sudan were massively impacted when Kenyan railroads were closed following the 2007/2008 election violence. No goods could be delivered to/from Mombasa port. Alternative ports were not feasible. Fuel prices tripled in Kampala. Essential commodities were unavailable.

Interesting, you might say, but there are plenty of landlocked countries in Europe (see the countries coloured orange on the map). Why do they not suffer the same fate? Well, European states have developed the infrastructure and agreements for easy cross border trade. The neighbours of landlocked European and Asian states also have well developed neighbouring state which serves as reliable markets for import/export.

When you combine landlocked (with underdeveloped neighbours) and some of the other factors (weak governance, conflict and the resource curse), you are stuck in colliers poverty trap.

All is not lost though. Great things are being done. Infrastructure is being improved and cross border cooperation is being strengthened (e.g. one stop border posts in East Africa). Coastal in-access and poor infrastructure has held it back but Africa is rising.

africarising1 africarising2



19.08.2013 Africa maps, Blog, Maps No Comments

Africa Tube

Africa tube map

Africa tube map

Geo gecko used this map to create a tube map for easier understanding of the trans-African highway system. The schematic transit map is often used to bring clarity to a complex system.

However, clarity comes at the expense of geographic accuracy and distances. So please don’t use it for navigating the short drive from Cairo to cape town.

The importance of transport infrastructure to economic development is obvious, especially in Africa. The large number of landlocked countries, the developing regional integration and the massive new projects, such as lappset, make for very interesting times indeed in African transport infrastructure.


02.07.2013 Africa maps, Blog, Humanitarianism/Devt, Maps 2 Comments

Why Kismayo?


Why is Kismayo important? Click here to the left where Geo gecko explains all you need to know with this handy infographic.

Find the most up-to-date city map publicly available by clicking here

24.06.2013 Africa maps, Blog, Humanitarianism/Devt, Maps 3 Comments

Kismayo City Map; Version 2.0


Kismayo, the port city at the southern tip of Somalia, is key to the future of the country. Click here to access an infographic explaining why.

However, only old or incomplete maps exist in the public domain. Geo gecko is filling this gap and has created the below map for all to use.



This is the second draft of the Kismayo city map. This version is a larger scale and includes the new airport and old airstrip, photos of landmarks and inset maps showing somali admin divisions and populated places. (See Version 1.0 here)

This map will be updated periodically so Geo Gecko requests the assistance from those who know the city. Please inform us about important landmarks, corrections to existing data,  businesses or photos of relevant infrastructure or sites. General comments are also much appreciated.

You can submit changes via Wikimapia, Google maps engine lite or Google earth.

Kismayo City Map

Low resolution (1.4 mb)

Medium resolution (2.6 mb)

High resolution (17 mb)

What do you think of this map? Get in touch, we love constructive feedback and we’d love to hear from you!


03.04.2013 Africa maps, Blog, Humanitarianism/Devt, Maps No Comments

Where do soldiers deliver aid?

A number of years ago I was attending a security training for humanitarians. This was offered by the Irish army.

Over lunch, a few soldiers and aid workers got to talking about how these actors interact in the context of a humanitarian crisis, how each are often confused by the other. One soldier mentioned a thesis his colleague wrote about this topic. It was called, the clowns and the acrobats, (or something to that effect). It talked about how in these environments, humanitarians see themselves as the acrobats (skilled, aware, professional & capable) and see the military as the clowns (clumsy, unaware of what is going on, plodding around with their big feet and making a mess). The military believed the inverse, i.e. The military were the acrobats and the humanitarians were the clowns. It proved to a very interesting chat.



There are two categories of countries displayed here, donors and recipients. Recipients are displayed in yellow-red and donors in blue.

The dynamics between the military and humanitarian agencies in emergency contexts has been a constant debate in recent years, especially since the military undertook many of the traditional humanitarian tasks in Iraq and Afghanistan. So how much is spent, by whom and where. We used data from the OECD DAC CRS database to create a map for easier interpretation.

It will not be a surprise to the reader that the U.S is clearly the largest donor, spending over US$1. 1 billion on military delivering of humanitarian aid. However it is news to the author that Australia  (US$115 million) and Spain (US$58 million) should feature so highly in the rankings. Is this as a result of peacekeeping operations or other spending? Clarification welcomed in the comments.

The usual suspects appear in the rankings for recipients of funding for military delivered aid. The U.S military played a very visible role in Haiti (US$381 million) following the earthquake, and apparently there was a bit of trouble in Afghanistan (US$ 275 million) and Iraq (US$ 126 million) in the past few years. Since the opening up of Myanmar it appears to be much more acceptable to offer military aid etc. But US$15 million of military delivered aid was donated to Myanmar between 2006-2010. Can you, dear reader, suggest who did this and why?