You are receiving this email because you are subscribed to ICLEI Africa's mailing list. You can unsubscribe at any time.
Join us as we explore the RISE Africa themes over the next few months through the RISE Africa Roadmap of online engagements, shared resources, webinars and video provocations.
“It is important that not only is the policy and regulatory space open to creating a conducive environment for smart cities, but that we are able to tap into different skills, ideas or tailor made solutions so we can actually contribute as young people and members of society."

~ Mbali Motsoeneng, Resilient40

RISE Africa 2021 Action Festival!


24-28 May 2021

A celebration of FUTURE possibilities for African cities. An exploration of novel IDEAS that are already influencing our practice. And commitment to ACTIONS that we need to take now to shape our cities into inviting, connected, and regenerative homes.

Submit your proposals for sessions at RISE Africa Action Festival.
These can align with any of the themes on the right, and propose creative and engaging approaches.
Dialogue & Performance Sessions: panel discussions, 1-1 dialogues or interviews and artistic performances

Action Sessions: workshop-style sessions which aim to develop an idea, draw people together (matchmaking), produce something, produce a piece of art or creative output, or launch a programme or initiative…

Trainings: training sessions on a specific idea, concept or methodology

Field Trips or Tours: Show us your city or project, by taking participants on a trip

Provocation: a 3 to 6 minute pre-recorded talk that aims to provoke viewers with a new idea, or a way of doing things.


Share the Open Call for session proposals with your colleagues


What happened last month? 

Reinventing the smart city: an African way

“The definition [of a smart city] is not new, it’s not standard,
and it’s not necessarily about technology.”
Nonopa Tenza, Metropolitan Municipality Specialist, Public Sector, Corporate & Investment Bank, Standard Bank

Africa has the opportunity to reimagine a smart city vision that is authentically African, driven by African aspirations, and rooted in the needs of those living in our cities. We should not simply copy smart solutions from other countries, but should rather take guidance from cultural nuances in our own cities. Wiebke Toussaint, TU Delft, explains that smart cities are about (1) understanding how people and resources move through a city system, (2) how the system is performing, and (3) matching the system’s functions to citizen behaviours. While this raises questions about they type of behaviours that we are influencing, it is important to emphasise that while smart cities place technology as a central enabler, the end goal should be to support citizen agency and sustainable outcomes in the city. As explored last month, citizens shape their cities just as cities shape them.


Supportive governance systems are essential to framing African smart cities. Smart governance incorporates two central considerations for Africa: putting people first and investing in data infrastructure. Data infrastructure plays a key roles in in supporting decision-making that is based on the real-life activity and evidence, thus directing planners, developers and policy-makers on how infrastructure and services can be used to meet the needs of citizens from project planning to implementation. It also supports citizens to access information and services, but also to share their own information and experiences online, supporting the growth of place-based narratives which are slowly building momentum around redefining African cities.


African cities have to grapple with limited skills, capacity and education required for the uptake and development of new technologies. Beyond investing in infrastructure, cities need to be equipped with skills to reduce the digital divide. Mbali Motsoeneng, Resilient40, suggests this is done through policy development, infrastructure implementation, skills building and improving access, while Mthobisi Masinga, Green Building Council of South Africa, suggests we need to embrace a decolonial approach which dismantles our normative assumptions about whose expertise and lived experiences a city should cater for, and promote multiple ways of knowing and being.

As a result, non-government organisations, particularly the private sector can play a defined role by understanding the context of African cities to frame projects that ensure just outcomes and to shift beyond supplying technology efficiency solutions. Reinventing the Smart City for Africa requires the following systemic changes:

  • Investment in data is a central contribution to cultivate evidence-based decision-making practices.
  • We need to reframe our reference points, to take inspiration from emerging smart cities in Asia, while centering African urban experiences.
  • Context matters: Our re-invention of smart cities requires uniquely African solutions.
  • We need to “meet people where they are” by offering technology solutions that are accessible in a context where technology has created and reinforced social division.

Reinventing African smart cities does not mean neglecting the role that technology plays, but rather emphasising that technology should enable and empower people and their ideas. Most importantly, we need to keep people at the centre of future African smart city visions. This requires an awareness of the human element and the role that civil society contributes.


Roadmap to RISE Africa 2021 Action Festival


UPCOMING WEBINAR: Roadmap to RISE Africa 2021 Action Festival

Water Innovation Showcase: valuing water

23 March 2021 – 2:00-4:00pm Central African Time


We all value water in different ways depending on our personal, professional and environmental circumstances. We depend wholly on finite resources of water or those which require a lot of energy to abstract. However, there is often a disconnect between the value of water and the usage of water. This session aims to showcase innovation and lessons learnt from projects and interventions that focus on the value of water in cities covering the themes of governance, technology, economics and capacity development. The overall objective is to redirect how we value water towards collective action in achieving the Sustainable Development Goal 6 (SDG6), with regards to clean water for all and better the lives of citizens in our cities through the lens of climate change. Join us for an insightful showcase!





RISE Africa, brought to you by ICLEI Africa, with support from our partners: 

Our Future Cities, African Centre for Cities, NRF, South African Cities network, African Circular Economy Network, Djouman, The Nature of Cities, IIED, WWF, AU Youth Envoy


PO Box 5319, Tygervalley • Cape Town, 7536 • South Africa • Click here to unsubscribe.