Page 101 - UCT Research Report 2011

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networks without the need of an operator or network costs;
the second will help such communities capture, archive and
share their stories via their mobile phones.
The centre has partnered with international bodies such as
the Hasso Plattner Institute in Germany and, more recently,
Samsung Electronics to set up the UCT Samsung Mobile
Innovation Laboratory (SMILe). The objective of the multi-
million rand SMILe is to develop “innovative mobile phone
applications in response to unique African needs”.
African development
Apart from hosting the SMILe lab, the Department of
Information Systems, through its research unit, the Centre
for Information Technology and National Development
in Africa (CITANDA) pursues a variety of other research
interests. While still examining the role of ICT in national
and continental development, CITANDA researchers do
not so much concentrate on the technology per se, but on
systems – taking cognisance of the interplay between ICTs
and organisations, and ICTs and society.
Projects have covered, for example, information systems
education and e-learning, the nature of e-commerce and
e-government in Africa, the impact of ICT infrastructure
expansion on human development, and on democracy,
and mobile banking among the millions of cellphone users
in Africa – banked and unbanked.
CITANDA has also tapped into its far-flung network of
collaborators and graduates; its doctoral alumni, for
example, hailing from Botswana, Kenya, and Nigeria. That
geographic spread feeds into the researchers’ and the
centre’s research goals.
“Context matters,” says Professor Irwin Brown, CITANDA
Director. “Nairobi and New York are very different places; if
you set up a system in Nairobi or Dar es Salaam, you have
to contend with a very different set of contextual issues
than you would in New York.”
From setting up high-performance clusters to looking
at cellphone applications, that is something that UCT
researchers have to keep in mind at all times.
The newly established Samsung Mobile Innovation Laboratory at UCT seeks to develop innovative mobile phone
applications in response to unique African needs.