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Driving SMME technology in transport forward at Datathon

A prelude to the launch of October Transport month was the annual event Smarter Mobility Africa which took place 5-7 October.

Following the successful event was the Smart Mobility Datathon, which kicked off on the 26 October 2021 at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) Convention Centre in Pretoria.

The Datathon campaigns to reduce carbon footprints and grow the green economy for a sustainable and environmentally friendly South Africa. As technology continues to evolve, the core mission for the Datathon is to encourage SMME’s to innovate and create solutions to African problems.

The hosts for day one of the event were Khangwelo Muronga and Anazi Zote Piper who set the scene for the agenda of the day. The welcome keynote delivered by Kenny Kistan, CSIR Smart Mobility Executive kicked off the programme.

He encouraged the live audience and online viewers not to be afraid to take action. “At CSIR we don’t just talk about it, we back it up with action”, said Kistan.

Following the motivational address, DDG of Transport Aubrey Mtubatse laid down the foundation of innovation that government was currently working on. He spoke to the importance of public transport, the need to transition from road to rail and key innovation gaps within local manufacturing of electric vehicles. 

His keynote address, titled Encouraging partnerships between government and entrepreneurs emphasised that strengthening collaboration in the continent is the key to achieving sustainable development goals on the continent.

During the keynote sponsor’s address, Anazi Zote, Head of Content at Smarter Mobility Africa spoke about the need for “changing the status quo”. The crowd was inspired by what is possible when daring to be different and changing the world. “If the idea sounds crazy you’re probably on the right path”, Zote said. She also highlighted the importance of providing mobility-for-all to unlock job opportunities, public services, personal free time, and connectivity to cities and communities.

Key group discussions were led by Shaun Mhlanga, a transport economist at CSIR. The discussions aimed to develop a conceptualised solution to the following topics:

  • public transport patronage
  • road safety
  • reduction in carbon emissions
  • transformation in the taxi industry
  • non-motorised transport

Day 2 – Datathon

On the second day, the SMME’s that were competing for the grand cash prize of R24,000 grant to aid and grow their business were waiting in anticipation for the announcement of results. The day started with a recap and opening keynote by Madumetja Moselakgomo, Research Project Manager at CSIR. The theme was the need to include minibus taxi’s in the renovation and innovation of transport in efforts to transition into smarter mobility. After the recap, SMME’s were given an opportunity to present their solutions to the audience. Each group was given 45 min to demonstrate their business idea, answer live Q&A and present their business solution as something to aid transport and add value to the smart mobility ecosystem.

The judging panel consisted of Khangwelo Muronga, CSIR, Madumetja Moselakgomo, Research Project Manager, CSIR and Anazi Zote, Head of Content, Smarter Mobility Africa. As the SMME presentations came to a close the judges broke away to deliberate on the winner of the first place of Datathon and the cash prize of R24k.

In third place was Xabhuga, a mobile ticketing app that promotes mobility as a service in public transport. In second place, a company called Siyaphambili, which aims to transform the minibus taxi industry to cashless.

The overall prize winner was Online Transport, a company that offers a single ticketing payment solution for public transport. The company took first place because it managed to illustrate the need and desire to integrate public transport so that the commuter experiences seamless, cost-effective and efficient travel.

You can catch up to the 2021 Smarter Mobility Africa Digital Event online.