Civic Tech Innovation Network’s Team and Reference Group

The team includes:

Indra de Lanerolle – Founder

Indra founded the CTIN project in 2017 and was active in managing it until he took a leave of absence in July 2019. He was also the director of the Journalism and Media Lab (JamLab) at Tshimologong Digital Innovation Precinct in Braamfontein, Johannesburg. Jamlab hosts the Civic Tech Innovation Network as well as running an accelerator programme for media innovation. Indra is a visiting researcher and adjunct lecturer on the Journalism and Media programme at the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg where he teaches television journalism and media entrepreneurship. He has conducted research on Internet access and use in Africa and published his work in academic journals as well as newspapers. He has also presented his work at Oxford University and Harvard. He was a senior producer at the BBC and co-founded and ran one of South Africa’s leading television companies. 

Geci-Karuri-Sebina, PhD – National Coordinator

Geci was contracted as the CTIN National Organiser in 2018, at a time where she had also accepted a Visiting Research Fellow role at the Wits School of Governance. She has a background in using tech and innovation to work with communities and is also a thought-leader who is Associated with South African Cities Network (SACN), a public urban governance learning network. Her previous roles include being the Executive Manager for Programmes at SACN; developing knowledge and evaluation systems for National Treasury’s Neighbourhood Development Programme; managing research programmes at the CSIR and HSRC, and working as a technology associate at the UCLA Advanced Policy Institute. Her research interests span a range of development foresight, policy, planning and practice topics, particularly relating to urban governance, socio-technical systems, and innovation systems. She is also a co-editor of the Innovation Africa book series (2016, 2020) and an associate editor on several journals on futures. 

Melissa Tsungai Zisengwe – Program Project Officer

Melissa was appointed as a journalist at JamLab and Civic Tech Innovation Network (CTIN) in 2018. She has been acting as the project manager for CTIN. Before joining the JamLab team, Melissa worked at Creamer Media. She is a graduate of Rhodes University, she holds an honours degree in Journalism and Media Studies and a BA degree in Journalism and Media Studies and English Language and Linguistics. She is interested in researching and advancing civic tech, social innovation, digital rights in Africa. 

She is also a research fellow at the Collaboration on International ICT Policy for East and Southern Africa (CIPESA) focusing on examining the use of civic tech during the COVID-19 pandemic in Africa. 

Tshepo Tshabalala – Editor

Tshepo Tshabalala is a web editor for, the Journalism and Media Lab (JamLab) and the Civic Tech Innovation Network online publications. He is also a sub-editor for Wits Vuvuzela’s print and online publications at Wits Journalism. Tshepo’s work has appeared in radio, print, wire services and online in South Africa and various other countries in Africa. He has worked as a reporter at Thomson Reuters Johannesburg bureau, Forbes Africa publications, a freelance contributor to SmartPlanet and web producer for Business Day, Financial Mail and BusinessLIVE. He is a Chevening Scholar and an EVA Junior Business Fellow. He has a Master in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics and is currently completing a Master in Journalism degree.

Intern – Project Assistant

CTIN has also taken on a regular intern to support the work of the network, but also to gain supervised work and network exposure. We see this as an important role that we play in capacity building.

CTIN Reference Group

The Civic Tech Innovation Network has a Reference Group that is comprised of civic tech activists, leaders and scholars who have volunteered their time to help steer the network and serve as a point of reference and provide guidance for the Secretariat team. The reference group helps steer the network and serve as a point of reference and guidance

The CTIN’s Reference Group currently includes:

Danga Mughogho, SA Cities Network
Danga Mughogho is the Programmes Manager: Well Governed Cities at the South African Cities Network , focusing on the management of municipal finances, developing human capacity in the public sector and the participation of vulnerable communities in municipal governance. Danga has over twenty years of work experience in both the private and the public sector, most recently as an independent consultant in democratic governance.

Kirsten Pearson, Independent
Kirsten Pearson is an independent consultant and researcher. Her areas of speciality are in sustainable development, public finance and civic tech. She is a steering committee member of the Budget Justice Coalition, a coalition of about twenty progressive civil society organisations who acknowledge that work to ensure substantive equality in our society is not possible without active engagement with, and transformation of, the budget. Kirsten previously worked as a Deputy Director at the Government Technical Advisory Centre (formerly Technical Assistance Unit), National Treasury. She was there for just over eight years from 2009 to 2018. Her work has entailed being part of an Economic Development portfolio team that provides support to national priority projects. These projects have spanned all three spheres of government. Kirsten holds a Bachelor of Arts with majors in Development Studies and Communication Science through Unisa. She obtained her degree cum laude. She is currently completing a Masters in Development Studies at the University of Cape Town.

Koketso Moeti,
Koketso Moeti has a long background in civic activism and has over the years worked at the intersection of governance, communication and citizen action. She currently serves as the founding executive director of , a community of over 617 507 people working to turn every cellphone into a democracy-building tool to ensure that those most affected by injustice- low income Black women in particular- can take collective action on issues affecting our lives. In 2018 she was announced as an inaugural Obama Foundation fellow and the Waislitz Global Citizen award winner. This comes after being a 2017 Aspen Institute New Voices fellow. She is also the Deputy Chairperson of the SOS Coalition, a coalition of South African organisations committed to and campaigning for public broadcasting in the public interest. When not working, Moeti can be found writing and has been published by a wide range of South African and international media.

Lailah Ryklief, OpenUP
Lailah is the Operations Manager at OpenUp , a civic technology organisation promoting the use of data and technology to drive social change. She also manages OpenUp’s Data Literacy Programme (previously Code for South Africa), acting as the lead curriculum developer, trainer, and mentor for various aspects of the project. She has a background in interactive media, design, and film, and has worked in academia for the University of Cape Town and GetSmarter in the areas of digital skills and online education. Later she joined OpenUp’s Data Journalism Academy and was fast-tracked to Newsroom Developer within one month. As a side venture, Lailah currently runs an apothecary specialising in a natural range of therapeutic adaptogens that are derived from pure botanicals and raw honey. This family initiative promotes sustainable and ethical beekeeping practices as part of a bigger initiative to foster character development and social etiquette.

Lesley Williams, Tshimologong Digital Innovation Precinct
Lesley is the CEO of Wit’s University’s Tshimologong Digital Innovation Precinct , an international public speaker and dialogue moderator. She is also the founder of Impact Hub Johannesburg. Her focus is on social entrepreneurship and taking African digital innovation to global markets. She breaks barriers by creating common ground between corporates, government, international developments agencies and entrepreneurs to work together. A career highlight was moderating a dialogue on Nelson Mandela’s legacy and the Future of Africa between President Barack Obama and Graca Machel at the African American Museum in Washington DC.

Nishendra Moodley, Future Cities SA
Nishendra Moodley is a Team Lead at Future Cities South Africa, the delivery partner for the South African component of Global Future Cities Programme of the UK Government’s Prosperity Fund, managed by the UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office. The programme intends to enhance inclusive economic growth and reduce poverty and social inequality through targeted projects on transportation and mobility, urban planning, resilience and the innovative use of data. Nishendra is a governance specialist who has previously worked for the South African National Treasury‘s City Support Programme (CSP), where he was responsible for the City Governance component. He had worked in local government for the City of Cape Town (1998–2000), before playing an advisory role across all spheres of government, during the consolidation of SA’s democratic local government system (2000–2015). The focus of his work has been on the design of intergovernmental institutional arrangements, evidence-based policy development and strengthening of accountability and learning through results-based monitoring and evaluation systems and practices. He has a Masters in Public Administration and qualifications in the sciences.

Richard Gevers, Open Cities Lab
Richard Gevers is the founder of Open Cities Lab (previously Open Data Durban) which is a non-profit open organisation that combines the use of action research, co-design, data science, and technology with civic engagement to enable the development of inclusive cities and urban spaces. Prior to founding Open Cities Lab, Richard worked as an economist, based in Durban, South Africa, for eight years where he interacted with both private clients and all tiers of South African government on a range of projects in various sectors. He is an entrepreneur with a dedication to the advancement of African communities through dynamic solutions and tools, hoping to empower socio-economic development and to affect social change. He has a deep interest in openness and transparency in society. When he finds spare time he grows his beard, brews beer, appreciates good coffee and likes to tell people he listens to vinyl.

Shirley Robinson, Independent
Shirley Robinson was a National Treasury GTAC Long Term Advisor supporting the National Treasury Cities Support Programme Cities Innovative Data Programme. She is particularly interested in how data may be used to articulate development challenges, and advocate for multi-sector partnerships that design and implement collaborative solutions. Shirley is an economist with over 24 years of applied public policy experience, whose expertise lies forming strategic global and multi-sector partnerships at the nexus between urban economic development, innovative public financing, results-based management, and M&E. In addition, she is a creative thinker with a track record of conceptualising, initiating and leading new approaches and programmes that challenge existing practices and paradigms. She is skilled in forming strategic multi-sector development partnerships with international finance institutions, primarily the World Bank, as well as donor organisations, government, civil society and the private sector that leverage collective action to design and implement collaborative development solutions.

Sophie McManus, Open Cities Lab
As Research and Engagement Lead and Head of Open Cities Lab , Sophie McManus is in charge of project design and implementation for projects that fall under the Open Cities Lab. This includes developing strategies for citizen engagement, managing the delivery of project outputs from project teams, and leveraging findings from ODD’s projects to contribute to research and knowledge production. With a keen interest in the link between human-centred project design and planning for inclusive cities, Sophie’s role bridges the gap between Open Data Durban’s civic technology projects and promoting smart cities, the democratisation of knowledge, and sustainable and inclusive development.

Zukiswa Kota, Public Service Accountability Monitor (PSAM)
Zukiswa Kota is the Head of Monitoring and Advocacy Programme (MAP). Zukiswa joined the Public Service Accountability Monitor as a researcher and has since amassed vast experience within the social accountability sector. An Environmental Science graduate, she is currently the Lead Coordinator of Imali Yethu, a civil society coalition working with the National Treasury to develop South Africa’s first online portal for provincial and national budget data, vulekamali. Zukiswa serves on the Board of Trustees of the Equal Education Law Centre (EELC) and on the Reference Group of the Civic Tech Innovation Network (CTIN). Zukiswa is passionate about promoting social and environmental justice and contributing to transformative open governance in Africa.