Letwin Pondo, a third-year undergraduate student in the Department of Surveying and Geomatics at Midlands State University (MSU), represented Zimbabwe’s mapping communities (Open Street Map) and open-source users at a Free and open-source Software for Geospatial (FOSS4G) Conference held in Florence, Italy from the 17th to the 31st August 2022.
The conference was themed, ‘State of the Map’.
Letwin Pondo is the president of the Youth Mappers Chapter at MSU, a club she introduced at the university early this year with the help of her lecturer, Dr. Prestige Makanga and other MSU Surveying and Geomatics students Ruvimbo Supiya and Kumbirai Matingo.
She is the current administrator of the Zimbabwe Institute of Geomatics’ secretariat, co-founder of African Surveyors Connect, the National Point of Contact for Women in the Geospatial Space and the co-lead for the FIG’S VCSP, among others.
She also runs #SheSpeaksSpatial, an initiative that encourages women’s participation in the Geospatial sector.
Letwin Pondo expressed her gratitude and honor for being granted the opportunity to represent Zimbabwe, share and learn from leading figures in the geospatial sector.
“It was an amazing experience for me as I got to meet the majority of people in the geospatial Industry, attended educative and intriguing presentations and workshops with experts from global conglomerates in the sector such as ESRI, META, LUTRA CONSULTING, GEOCAT, HOT, OSGEO, Wikimedia, Kartoza among others.
“I learnt a lot of new mapping software and applications such as Everydoor, Merginmaps directly from their developers, met other mappers affiliated to YouthMappers and several regional ambassadors.
Letwin also got a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to meet the co-founder, managing director and director of EverwhereSheMaps; an organization that empowers students, host country governments, and other partners to achieve locally-sustained results, helping countries mobilize public and private revenues, strengthening local capacities, and accelerating enterprise-driven development.
“As Zimbabweans we have a lot of work to do in promoting the use of free and open source software, encouraging women to participate in such activities, organizing local conferences to share ideas, networking, collaborating and working towards sustainable development for Zimbabwe through space and geospatial technologies, “said Letwin Pondo.

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