Nick Toozs-Hobson

Social Innovation In Africa

Blog Post created by Nick Toozs-Hobson Employee on Jul 3, 2014

My colleagues Dieter Schoene sebastian spicker, Shaun Barendsen, Christel Swart and I all attended an intensive 3 days in Johannesburg last week in an extended workshop. The idea was to see what social innovation projects may be realistic in the sub-Saharan African space. We are looking to find ways that, without "dumping" technology, we may use technology-based solutions that will improve lives in conditions on a continent where things happen differently to the way we are used to doing things here in the first world.


Dieter has written a short introduction to it here


With my "operational" hat on, and 10 years of local knowledge of working in Southern African (from 1991 to 2001), I found myself trying to work out we get data into and out of the environments in order to make systems work.This sounds pretty easy to us, even on large continents like Australia or America, where distances are long and some places extremely remote. In Africa though there are significantly more difficult challenges.


One of the topics where we think that there are good possibilities is e-learning, to create the "Virtual Learning Enterprise" or VLE. In the western world we talk about instructor led distance learning or Web Based Training (WBT). This is because our frame of reference is that practically everybody has access to the internet and understands interactive computer-based activities and how to use technology. It also relies on us having teachers who know their subject and can teach over the internet as though they were in front of a class. In South Africa alone, there are 100,000 unfilled teaching posts today. Yep, 100,000!!! So you can imagine the challenges they are facing. And, in the bush, no-one has electricity, let alone access to the internet or knows what computer is. But, what they do have in up to 45% of cases is a cell phone!! So they can be connected......


With this in mind we are now looking at ways we can work with local partners to install systems that can be managed remotely but deliver a national curriculum to these remote areas and do it in a way that is non-threatening. the first steps have already been taken, and with the help of a South African Telco client, Hitachi Digital Media Group, Hitachi Europe (SA), HDS may be able to install a UCP -based private education cloud that will do just that.

Innovation workshop JNB.JPG

At the Deloitte's Innovation Zone in Woodmead, Johannesburg South Africa


From Left to Right: Sebastian Spicker HDS GAM; Jack Kao, Vodafone GAM: Deon Liebenburg, CEO Vodafone Global Enterprise Africa; Shannon Lucas, Vodafone Global Enterprise Innovation Manager; Dieter Schone, Director Business Consulting EMEA Global Markets


I will keep you posted on how we get on with our Odyssey.


Cheers, 2s