The SiyaKhula Living Lab is an initiative to connect rural communities to the rest of South Africa and the world, both socially and economically through the power of the internet.
I got involved with the SiyaKhula Living Lab while I was documenting the Rhodes University Community Engagement projects. Rhodes and Fort Hare Universities have been active in ICT for Development for many years, through the two Telkom Centres of Excellence in Telecommunication hosted in their Computer Science departments and in 2006, this activity gave rise to a field test site, in the Mbashe municipality in the vicinity of the Dwesa-Cwebe Nature Reserve, in the rural Eastern Cape Province. Here are some photos to set the scene..
This initiative, now called the Siyakhula Living Lab (SLL) is organised along the lines of the "emerging RDI living lab methodology". The underlying principle of this methodology is co-creation of solutions with empowered users. The following images are examples of the very rural community in Dwesa who are otherwise isolated from the rest of the country. SLL shows in a practical fashion how marginalised rural communities that are difficult to reach, may in future be joined with the greater South African and African communities to the economic, social and cultural benefit of all. (This information was taken from http://siyakhulall.org)
The lab empowers local entrepreneurs, community members and school children. The facility includes computers, internet access and training.
For more information about this exciting project, please check out the website here: http://siyakhulall.org