Urban Fest 2020 Media
The Urban Festival was a series of virtual engagements hosted by South African Cities Network (SACN), Civic Tech Innovation Network (CTIN), The Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA), Open Cities Lab (OCL), Wits Journalism and Media Lab (JAMLAB), Our Future Cities (OFC), ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability, and others. The festival ran from 1-31 October 2020, culminating on World Cities Day.
This was the first edition of Urban Fest and its overarching focuses were inclusivity, accessibility and digital innovation. CTIN’s programme comprised of Tech Tuesdays, Masterclasses on Wednesdays and Urban Jam Cafes on Thursdays. This year’s Urban Festival was full of activity, inspiration, insights and engagement. The theme, Empowering the Civic was an exploration into how the physical and virtual world can be harnessed to engage people in reimagining and shaping their cities, both in these strange and uncertain COVID-19 pandemic times and into the future.
“I love the image of 'the cloud' as being the way we access information. In both ‘traditional’ and ‘digital’ culture”
“This is beautiful work. Very important to connect tech/digitisation to our heritage”
“Really great presentations from everyone thank you so much enjoyed this session well done to the team.”
“Thank you for the nice conversation!”
“Thanks so much everyone! That was fantastic. Great presentation Anuraj”
“Thank you all for such a good session :)”
“Thank you Everyone great session really enjoyed it”
“Buying your work to stock our library tonight @Coumba. Also, we should explore cross-regional collaborations”
“Well done! Smell your flowers while you are still alive. You guys did a great job! So much respect for you"
“Well done! A brilliant festival - inspiring, inclusive and accessible thanks to being online”
“Was quite an extraordinary effort for the organisers, and it is highly appreciated”
“Great event! Well done to all involved!”
“Amazing work and truly brilliant to see the result in such a short space of time!”
“Amazing work and truly brilliant to see the result in such a short space of time!”
“I hope that this be held every year as it's surely interesting and empowering”
“Well done on the excellent organisation.”
“We need to hear from Urban professionals who have ideas and can give us a visual a window into how space can be transformed. Make movies about how communities can change a space.”
Session Hosts: Halfdan Lynge-Mangueira and Rekgotsofetse Chikane
This masterclass was led by Wits School of Governance senior lecturer Halfdan Lynge-Mangueira and lecturer Rekgotsofetse Chikane, through a series of charts, they were able to highlight how the country of Estonia was able to implement key policy reforms by making use of technology and data science over the past 10-12 years.
Session Host: Alexandra Chandran
This masterclass tackled citizen engagement, by showcasing the work of Citizen Lab – facilitating good, evidence-based, decision and policymaking by providing an e-democracy platform that enables co-decision making between communities and governments.
Session Host: Koketso Moeti
This masterclass sought to share ways in which citizens can use civic technology for new ways to collaborate, campaign, mobilise and exchange information. Moeti showed the class how she has been using tech in her work and gave the participants practical guides on how they can use social mobilisation and activism to empower themselves and their communities.
Session Host: Pierre Schoonraad
In the fourth and final session, the host focused on whether data is truly being used effectively to solve problems, or merely creating inefficiencies? The session dives into how data can align with and support positive spatial planning solutions and initiatives now and going into the future, the potential of data to tackle key social issues like Gender-Based Violence
CTIN kicked off its Urban Festival 2020 programme with the “Smarter Cities — Consciousness” webinar with Anuraj Gambhir. In the session, Gambhir shared his insights on how we can engage with tech and cities while shifting our consciousness to focus on what matters and is meaningful for humanity to survive and thrive on this planet.
The Smarter Cities” session titled “Imagination”, featured Thiresh Govender, an architect and Russel Hlongwane, a cultural producer and creative industries consultant. Who shared their insights on how we can transform our cities and settlements towards more sustainable and fulfilling possibilities through engaging our (African) imaginations. They implored the webinar participants to interrogate their perspectives around Afro-Smart cities and the narratives that have been created around socio-spatial spaces and new forms of data-driven urbanism.
Smart cities and digital technologies present opportunities that can better public services for citizens, enable efficient use of resources and minimise environmental impact. The webinar focused on how communities and their stakeholders can engage in making “smart cities” and the lessons from around the world that Africa can draw from. Principles that can be employed and cautions about the future of African smart city-making emerged. This session, titled “Smart Cities and Participation” featured Julien Carbonnel, Simina Lazar from ASToN Network, Derrick Demeveng from GeOsm and Charlynn Ainembabazi from Kampala Capital City Authority.
The smarter cities series was wrapped up with the Policy and Action session, which focused on how South Africa is taking on the “smart city” concept — looking at how practically — what a “Smart City South Africa” agenda entails. By the end of the session, the panellists all agreed that the creation of a smart city is a multifaceted journey, a journey that is entirely hinged on the developmental level of each city and the day-to-day challenges experienced by its citizens. The panellists who led this conversation were; Sithole Mbanga, CEO of the South African Cities Network (SACN), Avril Williamson, Director-General: Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA) and Angela Petzer from The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR).
URBAN JAM CAFÉS
About Jam Cafes: The “Urban JAM Café” were a series weekly “conversational” virtual sessions at the Urban Festival 2020 on the influential role the civic has played in media to influence public opinion & voice, and shape policy & governance in African cities. The series was organised in partnership with JAMlab Meetup’s Reimagining Journalism Series, and with support from KAS Strong Cities. As the world prepares to open up, following a seismic shift in how things operate, we need to begin reimagining journalism post the pandemic. The Jamlab Meetup: Reimagining Journalism Series was created to explore the changes taking place within journalism and media in Africa.
The role of satirists in undermining propaganda and challenging those in power has never been more important than it is in society today. These were the views of some of Africa’s emerging young satirists speaking at the Reimagining Public Opinion and Satire session of the Urban Festival 2020.
As we reimagine the future of cities, of human society and how we live and intermingle with one another, technology and the planet — what is the role of the narratives we hold, and how are we using stories and the new narratives within our pursuits? How can we transform ourselves and our society through our narrative(s)? This session presented a unique storytelling session that enabled the participants to reimagine the stories they told themselves and how these can be used to ourselves and our society.
This session aimed to create space for the participants to reimagine new ways of delivering News in time where Africa is increasingly becoming younger and more urbanised. The conversation concluded with a consensus that traditional media will have to evolve to remain relevant to today’s audience and news will increasingly need to be packaged in bite-sized forms to suit different communities. These were the key themes that emerged from the Reimagining New Media and Voices webinar at the 2020 Urban Festival.
During this session, the speakers presented stories from their respective countries regarding their transformation journey in the digital age. They spoke about how the journey has been and the lessons they have drawn out of the process. They shared practical actions for governments, civil society, and business could consider in being responsive to some of the policy and governance challenges Africa is experiencing. Discussion around the digital systems such as eGov and Open Gov that transformed policy and what it means for government, civil society business and other urban stakeholders ensued.
Urban Fest Closing Event
The Urban Festival 2020 closing ceremony, chaired by South African Cities Network CEO, Sithole Mbanga, featured a conversation between Geci Karuri-Sebina and the poet, Emmah Mabye, as well as a discussion of key insights from the festival from Our Future Cities director, Rashiq Fataar.
Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, and Councillor Xola Pakati, Executive Mayor of Buffalo City, also shared their thoughts on the importance of an empowered civic.
Watch all our Urban Fest sessions on the Civic Tech Innovation Network YouTube channel