Infusing Futuring into Community-based Co-design: A Pathway to Innovative Technology Design with Indigenous Communities in Africa

Infusing Futuring into Community-based Co-design: A Pathway to Innovative Technology Design with Indigenous Communities in Africa

Executive summary

This paper argues for a fusion between community-based co-design and futuring as an approach for alternative and innovative technology development in rural indigenous settings in Africa. We base our argument on theoretical propositions and two prior empirical project cases in Namibia that applied Community-based co-design and futuring. The cases focus on the co-design of a digital wildlife data collection tool and futuring of rural green energy use, highlighting the fundamental attributes and application of each approach in rural indigenous settings. In a critical stance, we accentuate the shortcomings of each approach and propose an alignment that transcends each approach from individual application to a collective alliance that enables rural indigenous technology innovation.



Secure, clean, and affordable energy for Africa

Secure, clean, and affordable energy for Africa

Date: 4 June 2024 10-12 CEST

Registration: Zoom Webinars


We invite you to a joint webinar featuring Reffect Africa, ENERGICA, SteamBioAfrica, SophiA, and SESA. These 5 Horizon Europe funded projects are collaborating to bring attention to the European-African collaboration towards advancing renewable and sustainable energy solutions across rural Africa.

Through this webinar, attendees will have the opportunity to learn about innovative strategies and state-of-the-art technologies being developed by the projects. Engage with the projects through a Q&A session, share insights, and be part of a vital dialogue on fostering sustainable energy access across Africa. Don’t miss this chance to contribute to a sustainable future for all.

Moderation: Trust-IT

  • 10:00-10:05: Introduction and housekeeping

  • 10:05-10:20: ENERGICA
    Speaker 1: Aminata Dumbuya, Freetown Waste Transformers, Sierra Leone
    10:20-10:35: Reffect Africa – 
    Speaker 1: David Vera, REFFECT Project Coordinator 
    Speaker 2: Banasco Seidu, Nasco Ghana

  • 10:35-10:50: SESA – 
    Speaker 1: Magdalena Sikorowska, ICLEI Europe, SESA Project Coordinator
    Speaker 2: Charles Ogalo, We!Hub Victoria Ltd, Kisumu, Kenya

  • 10:50-11:05: SophiA
    Michael Kauffeld (Hochschule Karlsruhe, Germany) – project coordinator
    Nicholas Kiggundu (Makerere University, Uganda)

  • 11:05-11:20: SteamBioAfrica – 
    Huw Parry  Project Innovation Manager (SteamBio Ltd)
    Colin Lineque Project Exploitation Manager (Carbon Capital Namibia)

  • 11:20-12:00: Panel session & Audience Q&A

SESA incubator program is looking for regional mentors in Africa!

SESA incubator program is looking for regional mentors in Africa!

Target countries: Côte d’Ivoire, Namibia, Nigeria, Rwanda, Tanzania 

8 SMEs will be financially supported under European Union (EU) funded SESA project.

The 8 start-ups will focus on:

  • Solar irrigation
  • Clean cookstoves
  • Solar cooling solutions
  • Waste-to-energy solutions
  • Second life batteries
  • Productive use of energy solutions

It is a plus if mentors have experience in these focus areas.

Mentoring duration:

Between June 2024 to December 2024 and to be defined based on the number of sessions which will be agreed between selected mentors and the SMEs. The selected mentors will collaborate with European mentors to guide the SMEs.

Compensation & mentoring plan:
This will be agreed upon during mentor interviews. This is not a permanent position but a time-limited one (approximately 7 to 10 sessions).

Expected competencies of mentors:

  • Previous experience in mentoring SMEs
  • Ability to deliver hands-on support and provide required feedback to the SMEs
  • Positive attitude, open-mindedness, strong communication and presentation skills, and ability to influence and inspire.
  • Have extensive networks (both local and regional) in the energy sector and with potential investors
  • Added advantage of having domain-specific knowledge in areas like sales, finance, strategy, operations, marketing.
  • Ability to communicate both in English and local languages

Benefits of applying:

  • Visibility in multiple African countries and Europe
  • Access to a wide European & African network of experts
  • Working with promising energy-related SMEs
  • Work in top awarded EU-AU collaboration projects. 

How to apply

Please send your interest, CV and relevant documentation via email before the 24 May 2024 to:
Alemu Belay:
Aaditya Dandwate: 

SESA Regional Event in Kigali, Rwanda: A Convergence of Innovation and Collaboration

SESA Regional Event in Kigali, Rwanda: A Convergence of Innovation and Collaboration

Against the backdrop of Rwanda’s commitment to sustainable energy solutions, the Smart Energy Solutions for Africa (SESA) Third Regional Event took place at the vibrant city of Kigali. Hosted by the esteemed University of Rwanda (UR), in collaboration with partners including ICLEI Africa, ICLEI Europe, Technical University Berlin, Smart Innovation Norway, F6S innovation, and Siemens Foundation the event was a highlight on how transformative energy initiatives can ignite innovation in the African context.  

Day 1: Business Modelling Workshop

The inaugural day of the SESA Regional Event in Kigali, set the stage for a journey into business modelling and co-creation. Hosted by Smart Innovation Norway (SIN) and SESA project consortium members, the Business Modelling Workshop brought together SMEs from Rwanda, Nigeria, Namibia, Tanzania, and Cote d’Ivoire and SIN mentors for a day of intensive learning and collaboration.

Led by Mikael Melitshenko, Head of Venture at Smart Innovation Norway, the workshop aimed to capitalize on the momentum generated by the 6-week Accelerator Program 2024, offered by SIN in March-April 2024. Participants embarked on a journey of self-reflection and strategic planning, with a focus on identifying future strategies for replication roadmaps and plans.

The session kicked off with an engaging introduction and topic-by-topic reflections, providing participants with a platform to reflect on their learnings from the Accelerator Program. Breakout sessions facilitated discussions on future strategies, culminating in presentations on future plans by the SMEs, where innovative ideas and insights were shared amongst peers. 

Following a lunch break, participants delved into hands-on exercises, leveraging different business tools tailored to their respective enterprises. From action plans to achieve future goals to pitch training sessions, the workshop provided SMEs with the practical skills and knowledge needed to navigate the complexities of sustainable energy entrepreneurship.

As the sun set on day one of the SESA Regional Event, participants departed with a renewed sense of purpose and determination, armed with the tools and insights needed to drive sustainable energy solutions forward in Africa and beyond. 

Day 2: Business Modelling Workshop and Site Visit to EcoGreen Solutions Ltd. 

As the SESA Regional Event entered its second day, participants gathered for another enriching session. On this day, we received external experts for the workshop – Pascal Nyiringango, Head of Grid Innovation and Incubation Hub (GIIH), Rwanda and Charles Shyaka, Managing Director from 250Startups Ltd., Rwanda. The experts having an experience with innovation, startups and businesses in the African markets, shared valuable insights, learnings and best practices with the SMEs and participants.  Led by Mikael Melitshenko, Head of Venture at Smart Innovation Norway (SIN), the morning started with a continuation of the business workshop, aimed at equipping SMEs with the tools and strategies for sustainable growth.

Morning Business Modelling Workshop:

The morning session delved deeper into business strategies and best practices. Participants engaged in pitch presentations, showcasing their innovative solutions and entrepreneurial ventures. Breakout discussions provided a platform for lively exchanges, enabling SMEs to gain insights from each other’s experiences and challenges in various business domains, such as product improvement, customer sales, reaching out to investors, raising funds, and scaling the business in different geographies/countries, etc.

Afternoon Site Visit to EcoGreen Solutions Ltd: 

Following the business modelling workshop, participants embarked on an immersive site visit to EcoGreen Solutions Ltd, the Rwandan-based company dedicated to manufacturing sustainable clean cooking solutions. Located in Kigali, the facility showcased EcoGreen’s commitment to innovation and sustainability. Participants witnessed firsthand the company’s biomass pellets production line, capable of producing 2 tons of pellets per hour, and the manufacturing process of improved cookstoves. EcoGreen’s endeavours not only aim to address clean cooking challenges in Rwanda but also extend to global markets, highlighting the company’s impact-driven approach to business.

Following the facility tour tour, a knowledge exchange took place in the form of a question-and-answer session. During this session the SMEs gained invaluable insights into the intricacies of developing and deploying clean cooking technologies and the lessons learnt along the way. For example, the representative from Powerstove (a clean cooking company from Nigeria) was able to exchange learnings with Ecogreen to enhance their businesses models and practices. Moreover, the session facilitated further networking opportunities, enabling the participants to forge connections and potentially cultivate partnerships for future collaborations.

As the day ended, participants departed with a deeper understanding of sustainable energy entrepreneurship and renewed inspiration to drive positive change in their respective communities.

Day 3: SESA Invest & Procure Summit 

With anticipation and enthusiasm, day three of the SESA Regional Event held the much-awaited SESA Invest & Procure Summit. Positioned as a groundbreaking event, the summit aimed to catalyse transformative projects within the region and beyond, serving as a platform to engage with key stakeholders in the sustainable energy ecosystem.

The morning commenced with an introduction to SESA and a glimpse into the exciting agenda ahead. Natalia Cardona and Ina Gencheva from the F6S team took the reins as moderators, organising a series of startup pitching sessions featuring the nine carefully selected SESA companies that aim to make a significant impact in the African ecosystem.

In the first session moderated by Natalia Cardona, startups such as Cool Lions Energies, Dritoven Engineering CC, Ohengo Investments CC, and Havenhill Synergy Limited captivated the audience with their innovative solutions. Each startup was given 7 minutes to present their pitch deck, followed by a dynamic Q&A session.

A brief coffee break provided attendees with an opportunity to network and reflect on the morning’s presentations before diving into the second pitching session moderated by Ina Gencheva. Powerstove Energy, EcoGreen Solutions Ltd, SLS Energy, Simusolar Limited, and Nastech Power Solutions took stage, showcasing their visionary initiatives aimed at addressing Africa’s energy challenges.

During the afternoon session ‘Procurement in Africa & barriers to access financing’ Moderated by Philipp Tepper from ICLEI Europe, the event featured esteemed speakers such as Prof. George Nwangwu, a distinguished legal scholar; Marie Dieng, GET.invest advisor providing insights into finance access for clean energy entrepreneurs in sub-Saharan Africa; and, Emilie Uwase, Climate Finance Manager at Rwanda Green Fund.

Day 4: Policy dialogue & Peer-to-peer exchange  

Day four of the SESA Regional Event in Kigali, Rwanda, was marked by vibrant exchanges and collaborative efforts towards sustainable energy development.

The morning session kicked off with a policy dialogue, bringing together government representatives, academic scholars, and business stakeholders. Their collective aim was to validate identified barriers hindering the upscaling of solar irrigation in Rwanda and propose preliminary policy measures to address these challenges.

Dr Alphonse Nkurunziza and Françoise Kayitare Tengera from the University of Rwanda set the stage for a day of collaboration and learning with their opening remarks.

Magdalena Sikorowska, SESA Project Coordinator and Senior Expert from ICLEI Europe provided insights into the exciting initiatives driving sustainable development in the region, setting the tone for engaging discussions. Fidele Abimana, Permanent Secretary of the Rwanda Ministry of Infrastructure, emphasized the importance of cooperation and robust policy frameworks in achieving sustainability goals.

The session delved into the Carbon Credit Markets, exploring strategies for setting up effective markets. Presentations from Okey Esse of Powerstove and Pearl Nkusi from the Rwanda Environmental Management Authority (REMA) shed light on innovative approaches to carbon credit trading.

Showcasing Rwanda’s progress in solar irrigation development, Dr. Geoffrey Gasore and Dr. Jean-Marie Bikorimana from the University of Rwanda, presented on the challenges and policy recommendations in this area. The innovative use of second-life battery technology for clean energy storage was highlighted through presentations by Léandre Berwa from SLS Energy and Samuel Asare from Nastech Power Solutions.

Dr. Alphonse Nkurunziza’s summary and closing remarks wrapped up the morning session, leaving participants motivated and empowered to continue their journey towards energy access for all. 

In the afternoon, a peer-to-peer exchange between the cities of Larissa (Greece) and Kigali (Rwanda) took center stage. Representatives from both cities shared their experiences of cities-business cooperation, discussed examples of collaboration between various public and private entities, the challenges that such collaborations face, and explored ways in which these challenges can be overcome. This session underscored the significance of shared visions, robust policies, adequate financing, mutual trust and open communication in fostering successful city-business cooperation.  

Day 5: Capacity building  

The fifth and final day of the SESA Regional Event in Kigali, Rwanda, was dedicated to capacity building and knowledge sharing, further enriching participants with insights and practical learnings to drive sustainable energy solutions forward. 

Prof. Deny Ndanguza extended a warm welcome to participants, setting the tone for a day of learning and collaboration. His opening remarks emphasized the university’s commitment to nurturing future leaders in sustainable energy. 

Case Study of Solar PV Mini-grid System in Kumasi (Ghana) 

Samuel Asare from Nastech Power Solutions shared a compelling case study on the challenges and successes of a solar PV mini-grid system in Kumasi, Ghana. His presentation provided valuable lessons learned and best practices for implementing similar projects in other regions.

Second Life EV Batteries Best Practices 

Léandre Berwa from SLS Energy, showcased best practices in the use of second-life EV batteries for energy storage by using SLS Energy’s technology as a case study.  Both this session and the proceeding session gave fellow energy developers and students completing a Masters of engineer in renewable energy to understand and ask technical questions around the solar PV innovation.

Understanding Carbon Credits 

Okey Esse from Powerstove offered valuable insights into the world of carbon credits, exploring the processes, benefits, and challenges associated with carbon trading. His presentation featured case studies illustrating successful carbon credit projects and their positive environmental impact. With the increasing interest in carbon markets in Africa, this session led to interesting discussions around setting up carbon markets and the various best practices.

Dr. Emmanuel Ufiteyezu from ACE-ESD/UR and Claudia Schröder from ICLEI Africa delivered closing remarks, reflecting on the day’s discussions and emphasizing the importance of capacity building in driving sustainable energy solutions. Their closing remarks inspired participants to continue their journey towards a greener, more sustainable future.

As participants departed from the SESA Regional Event, they carried with them a wealth of knowledge, insights, and inspiration to effect positive change in their communities and beyond. The event had served as a platform for learning, collaboration, and empowerment, reaffirming the collective commitment to advancing sustainable energy solutions in Africa.