Waze, the GPS navigation service that allows drivers to share traffic conditions automatically in real-time, has announced its first foray into African territory and launched in South Africa.

Waze is a community-driven app available on all the major mobile platforms, including Android, iOS and BlackBerry. It learns from users’ driving times to provide routing and real-time traffic updates.

Whilst Waze is available to download and use anywhere around the world, only some countries have a full ‘basemap’ –  the US, Canada, UK, Germany, Italy, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Belgium, Ecuador, parts of Argentina, Panama and, Israel and now, of course, South Africa. Other countries require users to record the roads and edit the maps themselves.

Waze Community powered road navigation app Waze launches in South Africa

“Every now and then, we do an ‘official’ launch in a new territory, and just recently, we added South Africa to the mix,” says the official announcement. “Partnering with MiX Telematics, the launch builds upon the community of more than 30,000 ‘early adapters,’ [SIC] based mainly in Johannesburg, that already exist.”

Back in January we reported that Waze had hit 12m users just as it launched version 3 of its Android app.

The idea for Waze originated a number of years ago in Israel, when Ehud Shabtai, a software engineer, was given a PDA with an external GPS device pre-installed with navigation software. Ehud observed that the product didn’t reflect the real-time changes that characterize real conditions on the road, so he took matters into his own hands and began work on a traffic platform which combined GPS, open-source software and a community of drivers.

Waze has also said that there will be more expansion announcements coming later this year.