Human centred design thinking underlies African Ideas philosophy of finding African Solutions for African problems. Embracing human-centered design means believing that all problems even the seemingly intractable ones like poverty, gender equality, and clean water, are solvable. Moreover, it means believing that the people who face those problems every day are the ones who hold the key to their answer. Human-centered design offers problem solvers of a chance to design with communities, to deeply understand the people they’re looking to serve, to dream up scores of ideas, and to create innovative new solutions rooted in people’s actual needs.
A core focus of African Ideas work is the evolution towards smart cities and intelligent infrastructure. We also focus on the data and information that is being generated by citizens, and how citizens are are building their own powerful platforms - generating some data, taking other data from multiple places, mashing this together, analysing this and drawing conclusions - without government or big business. And now this connected technology is entering the home.
The Western Cape economy is moving from one based principally around the production and distribution of physical goods to one driven primarily by the production and application of knowledge. The creation and nurturing of a knowledge-based society is essential to maintaining and enhancing the Western Cape’s international competitiveness. In highly competitive regions in the global environment, high speed access to the internet for businesses and residents is available almost anywhere and at any time – providing the ideal enabling environment for the growth within commerce, industries, SMMEs and entrepreneurship, stimulating innovation and the enablement of the growth of other economic sectors by communication technologies.
One of the key challenges hampering broadband services in South Africa (and Africa) is the lack of an effective last mile connectivity solution (i.e. how to connect the home to the backbone broadband networks). This is even more of a challenge in the rural context.
This project was conducted on behalf of the Lejweleputswa Development Agency (LDA) in the Lejweleputswa District of the Free State province of South Africa. The contract related to the conducting of a feasibility study for the establishment of a Technology Innovation Hub in the District. This project is in partnership with the Lejweleputswa District Municipality (LDM) and the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC). The Lejweleputswa District Municipality (LDM) is one of five District municipalities in the Free State Province. It comprises of five local municipalities namely Matjhabeng, Nala, Masilonyana, Tswelopele and Tokologo.
In following African Ideas human centred design approach, we realised that the District was actually looking at a way to reposition its economy away from the traditional gold mining (which has become a declining industry in the area) and agriculture. As a result of this, not only was the feasibility study developed, but the concept of a Lejweleputswa Technology Innovation Ecosystem was introduced.The eco-system includes a district wide broadband network, municipal shared services, sustainable energy and industrial projects and various other sub-project to ensure the success of a self-sustainable Technology Innovation Hub.