maputo living lab

Maputo Living Lab


Empowering a local community through IT

The project

The Maputo Living Lab (MLL) aims at applying the open innovation paradigm of Living Labs by involving the local community as a source for project ideas and as end-user group for the Living Lab’s products.

Furthermore, being located in a developing region, MLL will have the goal of fostering local development by working as a start-up incubator to promote local entrepreneurship, helping the execution of innovative projects that can contribute to the improvement of the quality of life in Mozambique.

Mission

The overall mission of Maputo Living Lab is to become a leading innovation hub for user-centric research collaboration in Mozambique and the sub-region and to host and promote innovative end-user and market-driven R&D in collaboration with the national, regional and European Living Labs, research institutions, private sector and higher education institutions as well as the civil society by establishing the necessary institutional frameworks, services and human resources. The primary objective of Maputo Living Lab is to establish a platform for development, conceptualization and commercialization of ICT based innovations, which provide direct impact on the lives of ordinary Mozambicans, focusing in particular the geographic region of Maputo city and its immediate vicinity. The other more detailed objectives include:

  • To demonstrate how local innovation systems and services may contribute to the local socio-economic development and welfare of the citizens
  • To provide a learning and a real-life collaboration platform for all the involved parties, including the Government’s eGovernment authorities (Ministry of Science and Technology, Technical Unit of the ICT Policy Implementation – UTICT and Technical Unit of the Public Sector Reform Programme – UTRESP) and the Municipality of Maputo, to participate in joint programmes to develop value-adding solutions for the citizens
  • To demonstrate in practise the intricate nature and potential of collaborative R&D and innovation process between the priority stakeholders, thus providing a platform for learning and replication for other development vectors and areas of society
  • To attract foreign capital investments and to establish long-term partnerships and collaboration frameworks between national, regional and European partners, including other Living Labs, higher education and research institutions and private sector

The City of Maputo is one of the eleven provinces of Mozambique and functions as the heart of the economic activities and the centre of national research and higher education institutions. The Municipality of Maputo, combined with population of the greater Maputo area, is also the largest population centre in Mozambique (around 1.8 Million people) and thus provides a natural environment for citizen-centric innovation, providing both the urban ICT-enhanced operating environment as well as access to more rural areas in the immediate vicinity of the Maputo city. Due to its size and complexity Maputo City provides also an invaluable environment for identifying challenges and for finding sustainable and scalable solutions for the rapidly the urbanizing population. The location of Maputo in the Southern tip of Mozambique makes the city a gateway to the rest of the country.

The location of Maputo is strategically on the logistical route from Southern Africa and in particular Gauteng province to the Indian Ocean (considerably closer than e.g. Durban). Due to its strategic location Maputo will also act as a landing station for major regional and international telecommunication infrastructures, which will not only provide connectivity services to the local market, but also to South-Africa, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Malawi and Swaziland. During the past years, MICTI has become an active member in the community of Business Incubators (e.g. Incubator Network of Africa) at the regional level and acts as a benchmark for the development of similar initiatives at the national level. The strengthening of the MICTI concept through establishment of MLL under its auspices would further strengthen the role of MICTI as a provider of catalytic environment and services for the clients of the national innovation system. MLL has already established a strong partnership with the Italian Trentino as a Lab since early 2008 and is in the process of establishing formal collaboration with several Living Lab initiatives in South Africa, Portugal and Finland. At regional level there is a strong commitment to develop a network of regional Living Labs in the Southern African region to ensure creation of peering and collaboration opportunities between countries facing similar challenges. MLL intends to be one of the forming members of this network of regional Living Labs. The focus of the MLL, in the initial stages, would be to concentrate at citizen centric eGovernment innovation and services development and development of eHealth platforms and applications. Additional activity areas, such as eTourism, eEnergy and GIS-based integrated development frameworks may be added at a later stage. The focus should be in impact oriented and end-user driven initiatives, which are carried out in partnership with the local stakeholders, including e.g. the Municipality of Maputo, Central Hospital of Maputo and citizen groups.

teaching at Maputo

Vision

Maputo Living Lab aims at establishing a set of five actions related to strengthening the scientific and technological collaboration between Trentino, Italy and Mozambique. Such actions include the support to building the physical and technological infrastructure of the Maputo Living Lab and the definition and development of common research and innovation projects, including the definition of support actions to favour the participation of SMMEs to the Living Lab.

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MLL aims at integrating the following five areas:

  • Research: following the Living Lab paradigm, MLL will identify projects to address the needs of the rural community of the Manhiça region. The development of such projects will be for the most part conducted on the field and directly involving the target community.  
  • Incubation: ideas developed by researchers and developed by MLL are expected to present opportunities to become successful businesses in the local community. MLL will provide support to ICT start-ups using the know-how of all its partners, thus not only providing new companies with access to MLL’s infrastructure, but also giving them access to the international network of the Living Lab.  
  • Education: this includes training and development of Mozambican human resources, including activities coordinated with the local universities and the University of Trento. Every year, 8 Mozambican students will be selected to participate to internships at MLL itself, at local companies or at partners (in research or industry) located in the Province of Trento. Intensive educational activities will be organized periodically to train students that could potentially become members of the Living Lab and to increase the computer literacy of the general population.  
  • Mobility: MLL will have a central role in mobility activities coordinated by the academic and research institutions involves. We envisage exchanges of researchers, students and ICT practitioners between the two countries as a way to transfer competences and personnel both for education and project development purposes.  
  • Targeted Applications: MLL will focus its R&D activities on real-world applications relevant to the Mozambican context. These applications will be coherent with the priority areas identified by the Government of Mozambique, particularly focusing on services for rural areas (e.g. eAgriculture, land management, mBanking, eHealth).  

The operating model of MLL is based on the implementation of a marketplace of needs, competences and ideas (“Marketplace of Ideas” for short), on the supply of training in the ICT field via the organization of yearly Summer Schools of ICTs and on the activation of project initiatives involving SMEs as well as educational institutions from the two countries. MLL will also stimulate entrepreneurship by working as an incubator for solutions that could be transformed into successful businesses.

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The various activities of the Maputo Living Lab will be based on the creation of a “virtual”, transnational structure. The ultimate goal is that of being able to effectively share the Education, Research, and Innovation systems of Italy and Mozambique, using the Living Lab as the focal point.

This will be achieved by acting at the organizational level and at the technological level. From the organizational point of view, the lab will be directed by a joint committee of six people, three of whom will be from partner institutions in Trentino (TasLAB, FBK and UNITN) and three of whom will be from partner institutions from Mozambique (UTICT, Eduardo Mondlane University, and Maputo’s Business Innovation Center). The creation of this joint committee will be associated with the creation of two working groups in the two countries that will cooperate in the implementation of all the projects of MLL and especially in the transfer of know-how. The two working groups will form distributed virtual project teams responsible for the coordination and implementation of the activities of MLL. These will include the involvement of local SMMEs, other research centres as well as the organization of the Summer School of ICTs and other education related activities.

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Scientific Publications

  • Ciaghi, A., Molini, P., Villafiorita, A., & Weldemariam, K. S. (2013). Maputo living lab summer school of ICTs: An experience report. In IST-Africa Conference and Exhibition (IST-Africa), 2013 (pp. 1–8).
  • Sahilu, H., Villafiorita, A., Weldemariam, K., Belachew, M., & Zewge, A. (2012). Designing distributed agricultural information services for developing countries. In ACM DEV (p. 24).
  • Zewge, A., Weldemariam, K., Hailemariam, S., Villafiorita, A., Susi, A., & Belachew, M. (2012). On the use of goal-oriented methodology for designing agriculture services in developing countries. In Proceedings of the International Conference on Management of Emergent Digital EcoSystems (pp. 40–47). New York, NY, USA: ACM. doi:10.1145/2457276.2457285
  • Ciaghi, A., Villafiorita, A., Chemane, L., & Macueve, G. (2011). Stimulating Development through Transnational Living Labs: the Italo-Mozambican Vision. In Proceedings of the 6th Annual IST-Africa Conference Gabarone, Botswana.

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