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 current position of inequity and exclusion in South Africa is magnified by the impact of digital exclusion which is now being recognised across the developed world as a serious matter requiring a large effort. While digital exclusion is seen as a major issue in the developed world, its impacts in countries like South Africa are now being recognised as profoundly important in addressing social, economic and cultural equity. There are a number of digital exclusion issues on the South African agenda. Foremost amongst these are concerns regarding the current levels of access to ICTs and the internet, the lack of e-skills required to participate in the Information Society, as well as levels of uptake and effective usage of ICTs by the broader citizenry.
Another chapter in the smart city story is being written by citizens, who are using apps, DIY sensors, smartphones and the web to solve the city problems that matter to them.
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.
African Ideas has been very active in creating and driving the e-education strategy and approach taken by the Western Cape Government (WCG).
African Ideas drove the concept of a schools wide area network (WAN) as an anchor of the provincial wide broadband. This fundamentally changes the way that schools can use technology to teach and learn, ultimately leading to improved education outcomes.
African Ideas CEO, Mr. Nirvesh Sooful, facilitated the first session with Education officials and other stakeholders, introducing concepts and ideas that eventually became the Western Cape Education Department's e-Vision document.
Emanating from this, an e-education business case was developed, extensive work was done looking the infrastructure, content, training, classroom and learner technologies, etc. that was needed to make this vision happen. African Ideas advised the WCG and the WCED throughout this process.
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.
There is growing evidence that the diffusion of ICT is an accelerator of economic growth in a country (studies by the OECD, World Bank, Economic Commission for Africa, etc.). Broadband is being identified as a key contributor to economic growth and offering “opportunities for employment generation, creation of new sources of innovation and enhancement of industrial competitiveness” However, it is also important to note that the benefits of broadband will not be achieved by infrastructure alone. It is achieved by focussing on a combination of infrastructure, readiness and usage – with is a key feature of the strategic approach developed African Ideas for our clients.
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.
Broadband is seen as a strategic enabler for all sectors of the economy. It enables the transmission of data across the globe, improved communication and the ability to transact almost instantaneously. Unfortunately, this kind of infrastructure is not widely available in South Africa and where it exists, it is often unreliable and very costly. This has been recognised and acted upon by National Government who, through the Department of Communications, have hastened to bring the National Broadband Policy to completion in December 2013, through the ratification of South Africa Connect. African Ideas was appointed as Strategy and Readiness Advisors to assist and guide the Western Cape Government in shaping the strategic plans for both the infrastructure and value added services.