Stellenbosch Network in search of smart township solutions for Kayamandi

Recent years have seen Stellenbosch emerge as one of the fastest-growing regions in South Africa. Spurred on by a thriving innovation ecosystem and growth in value-adding sectors, the town has witnessed sustained economic growth, declines in unemployment, and a rise in human development and service delivery. By 2020, the town’s reputation was cemented when it (together with Franschhoek and Paarl) was recognized as the third most valuable district in the country[i].

But while Stellenbosch has emerged as the prosperous jewel of the Cape Winelands, the nearby township of Kayamandi is all too often left out of the picture. As such, while residents may find themselves near the heart of one of South Africa’s top technology and scientific communities – unequal access to public services and opportunities means that one of Stellenbosch’s most under-served communities is yet to reach its full potential.

However, this is about to change, as Kayamandi is set to become South Africa’s first Smart Township[ii] – a community empowered by innovation, where a combination of high- and low-tech solutions play a pivotal role in redressing digital inequality, enabling greater social and economic inclusion, and fostering urban resilience for future generations.

To aid Kayamandi’s journey towards becoming a Smart Township, Stellenbosch Network has partnered with LunttuRanyakaStellenbosch University, the Regional Innovation Support Programme, and Stellenbosch Municipality, to launch an #IdeasForChange Challenge – an ideation competition, which seeks to uncover and incubate the development of innovative ideas, business models, process flows, and technology with the potential to improve the quality of life of residents of Kayamandi.

Says Hanli Brink, Operations Manager of Stellenbosch Network: “The power of technology to accelerate inclusive socio-economic development is well known, but its potential has yet to be realized in South Africa’s most under-served communities. As an organization working to foster increased knowledge generation, resource sharing, and innovation in the Stellenbosch region – and recognizing the call to support the people of Kayamandi – we believe that now is the time to focus our efforts beyond the center of town; to partner with committed members of the local community, and together, help transform Kayamandi into its own modern hub of economic growth and activity.”

Explaining the concept of a Smart Township, Wesley Diphoko, the Founder of Lunttu, explains that the idea is to use technology to transform traditional townships into inclusive micro-economies, where accessible, purposeful, and relevant innovation plays a key role in helping citizens become active players in the economy, society, and public sphere. He continues, saying that Smart Townships use data and digital technology to improve decision-making and better the quality of life for citizens and businesses. This relates to a range of fields, from innovative solutions in healthcare, housing, safety, and security, to education, public services, and civic engagement.

Running from now until the 20th of November 2022, the #IdeasForChange Challenge is open to all people and businesses living, working, or studying in Stellenbosch, and the surrounding areas, with all entrants set to receive free entry into an Online Value Proposition Masterclass, to help them develop their idea and further their business proposition.

Applicants will then be able to enter one of two categories – the first for brand new ideas, while the second seeks to support established businesses – with both category finalists to be selected by a combination of public vote and input from the judging panel of experts. The winner will receive an R20,000 cash prize, with second and third place receiving R6,000 and R4,000 respectively.

To enter or learn more about the Challenge, go to:

For queries, please contact

Kindly note that all applicants will be notified by 25 November 2022 whether they have been shortlisted or not.