Within the context of developing the socio-economic & research potential of the African Information Communication Technologies (ICT) & Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) landscape, the 8th Africa-EU Strategic Partnership provides a political mandate based on mutually agreed priorities, for the European Commission (EC), African Union Commission (AUC), European Union (EU) and African Union (AU) Member States, Regional Economic Communities (RECs), the Research Community, Private Sector, Civil Society and NGOs, Local Authorities, International Financing Institutions, International Donor Organisations & Foundations to collaborate in the areas of Science, Information Society and Space.
The Second Action Plan for the period 2011 - 2013 of the 8th Africa-EU Strategic Partnership (Science, Information Society, Space) has identified a number of priority areas for public sector, private sector and research community collaboration between Africa and Europe to complement investments in ICT infrastructure deployment by exploiting synergies between the EU 2020 Digital Agenda and the African Union (AU) ICT development frameworks.
The goal is to support STI and ICT capacity-building initiatives for mass diffusion of ICTs and related services, as key enablers for poverty reduction, economic growth, social development and regional integration. One of the priority areas identified is to support the establishment of sustainable Living Labs Networks across Africa as a tool to enhance ICT research cooperation, local innovation, entrepreneurship and wider socio-economic and community development.
This White Paper Supporting the Evolution of Sustainable Living Labs and Living Labs Networks in Africa was authored by IST-Africa in cooperation with LliSA as a result of the inaugural IST-Africa Living Labs Workshop on 10 May 2011 in Gaborone and the establishment of the EU - AU Living Labs Task Force for Africa. It is targeted at a range of Key Stakeholders including the European Commission (EC), African Union Commission (AUC), African and European Member States, African Regional Economic Communities (RECs), Community Leaders, Researchers, Industry and Entrepreneurs, and other National, Regional & International Funding Agencies including donors and foundations.
It positions Living Labs and Living Labs Networks within the context of current literature in this domain and shares lessons learnt from establishing the LLiSA (Living Labs in Southern Africa) Network and perspectives from LLiSA Members and different stakeholder groups (government, industry/commercial, research/academia, civil society and donors) involved in supporting LLiSA. It also provides an overview of some of the Living Labs related activities across Africa as well as international good practices to provide a better perspective on potential differences in context between Living Labs and Living Labs Network priorities in developing and developed countries, and ensure cultural and other differences are taken into account.
All relevant stakeholders including the members of the EC -AUC Living Labs Task Force for Africa were consulted during the preparation of this White Paper and invited to provide contributions and case study summaries for inclusion.
As a result of reading this White Paper, relevant stakeholders will better appreciate:
(a) the basic concepts behind Living Labs;
(b) the different forms and focus that Living Labs can take;
(c) the diversity of Living Labs related activities that already exist across Africa;
(d) the potential socio-economic, socio-cultural and quality of life benefits and opportunities presented by applying Living Labs Methodologies adapted to an African context; and
(e) the enormous potential impact of supporting replication of such activities across Africa.
However, equally importantly, it aims to start an action-oriented dialogue about:
(1) how EU - African cooperation can contribute at both a policy and implementation level to wider exploitation of Living Labs Methodologies and sustainable Living Labs Networks in Africa;
(2) the potential impact that better collaboration, communication and coordination between existing and planned stakeholder initiatives with complementary goals and Living Labs Methodologies and Living Labs Networks can achieve; and
(3) identify priorities for partnerships between EU - Africa stakeholders (in terms of resources or skills transfer).
We would like to thank those who provided contributions during the initial public consultation during September and October 2011.
The results of the IST-Africa Living Lab Validation Workshops undertaken with national stakeholders in East Africa hosted by Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research, Burundi (26 - 27 September 2011); Tanzania National Commission for Science and Technology (29 - 30 September 2011) and Uganda National Council for Science and Technology (06 - 07 October 2011) are incorporated in v2.0 of the report, which is available for download.
African governments have expressed an interest in leveraging Living Lab methodologies to support the Innovation ecosystem at national and regional level and as a mechanism to facilitate co-creation between government, industry, research, communities and civil society. Further IST-Africa Living Lab workshops were hosted by the National Commission for Science and Technology, Malawi (17 November 2011); Ministry of Communications and Transport, Zambia (22 November 2011); Ministry of Science and Technology, Ethiopia (24 November 2011) and Ministry of Information Communication Technology, Swaziland (29 November 2011) 02 December 2011 (Zambia), Ministry of Communications, Science and Technology, Lesotho (09 November 2012) and National Computer Board, Mauritius (16 November 2012) to raise awareness of the potential with national stakeholders.
IST-Africa organised an IST-Africa Living Lab Thematic Working Group Meeting in cooperation with TANZICT as a pre-conference event in Dar es Salaam on 08 May 2012, thus directly supporting one of the main focuses of the Second Action Plan. IST-Africa invited key stakeholders including European Commission (EC) and African Union Commission (AUC), Co-chairs of the 8th Africa - EU Strategic Partnership (Portugal and Tunisia), IST-Africa National Partners, World Bank, LLiSA Network (Living Labs in Southern Africa), ENoLL (European Network of Living Labs), as well as other thematic experts from government, research and private sector to contribute to this Workshop. There were almost 90 participants in this interactive participatory meeting.