The Stellenbosch township of Kayamandi is set to get a digital makeover as it becomes an innovation lab and model to be replicated for other townships across South Africa.
It is no secret that South African townships such as Kayamandi fall outside of the pristine picture frame that we hold in our minds of the Cape Winelands, with rolling vineyards, majestic mountains and elegant Cape Dutch architecture our go-to reference.
However, things are about to change as the township gets ready to become the first Smart Township in the world.
According to Wesley Diphoko, the Editor-in-Chief of Fast Company (SA) magazine, from October 2022, the township will step into the future as it addresses its business, health, education, transport, housing and employment challenges through technology.
With so many young people in Kayamandi so close yet so far from one of South Africa’s top universities – Stellenbosch University – this “digital revolution” will set its sights on equipping all young people within the township with technology skills.
But this will go beyond simply learning to type on a computer and navigating social media, says Diphoko. “Hardcore skills” that will be required by most technology companies in South Africa and across the world will be taught and will be utilised to help solve some of the toughest obstacles that await Kayamandi along its push into the future.
This push will see many of the young people in the township receive much-needed access to the best education available in the world through a “digitally enabled hybrid model.”
Other obstacles will also be tackled. One of the biggest challenges residents in townships face, particularly Kayamandi, is the fact that they struggle to adequately get their concerns across to the Stellenbosch municipality – this results in protests and unrest.
The solution is to implement a feature that will connect residents with the local government, providing them with a platform that will sufficiently get their concerns across and heard.
The Kayamandi initiative forms part of a greater vision that hopes to see this smart township model replicated in other townships across South Africa in an effort to address similar challenges related to healthcare, education, etc, in other parts of the country.
For now, technology and innovation partners, professionals and organisations are invited to participate in the process in order to find and implement technological solutions “under the Smart Township banner in Kayamandi.”
The vision is in full swing, says Diphoko, and on 1 October an online environment with details will be launched. Make sure you follow #SmartTownship hashtag on Twitter to receive updates.