A design lab is a creative space where technology is
applied to solve a dynamic range of problems from any sector of the society; it
could be education, governance, public health etc. It is a research and development lab innovating for social impact and requires a collaboration between various
disciplines ranging from software engineers to product designers, scientists
and stakeholders. Africa has had an improving tech sector especially in major
countries in the continent – Nigeria, Ghana, Uganda and Kenya, and has opened up
to Rwanda with the first design lab in the continent.
The first design lab in Africa was launched in
February, 2019 through a collaboration between Co-creation Hub
(CcHUB), Nigeria and stakeholders across the continent. CcHUB is
an innovation center dedicated to accelerate the application of social capital
and technology for economic prosperity using design and innovation to solve Africa’s biggest development
and social challenges.
CcHUB is Nigeria’s first
open living lab designed as a space where technologists, entrepreneurs, tech
companies, investors and hackers in and around Lagos can work individually and
collectively to improve creative tech ventures in the country. With almost a decade
of existence, CcHUB has supported tech-enabled companies connected to various
sectors of the economy including education, public health and governance with a
portfolio of over 60 companies such as Lifebank (a digital blood bank), WeCyclers (recycling
venture) and Budgit (a web platform that simplifies the Nigerian
budget and public data).
At the Design Lab,
design-thinking is applied to build innovative products, services and
experiences for social good and economic prosperity. The choice of locating the
design lab in Rwanda was based on the ease of transacting business in the
country as well as the uniformity of vision between the country and the hub
which is the use of “technology as an integral gateway and means of developing
society”. This was the first step by the hub to expand its reach to other
African countries apart from Nigeria.
With an initial investment
of $11 million, the lab focuses on finding “solutions that will enable
socio-economic development, productivity and development across Africa”. The
Design Lab is run by a multidisciplinary design team of designers and engineers
with three key sectors of focus:
with local companies such as the Rwanda Biomedical Centre, Go-Ga
Lab, Nimcure and Safe Online, projects
are chosen based on their potential to create transformational change,
especially in the areas of Education, Public Health and Good Governance
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