Hosted by Design Society

Report Written By: Michelle Wanyang, Dunja Stevanovic, and Pauline Rajski

Date: 26th October 2020


The Africa Design 2020 Online Workshop was a  sequel to the Design for Global Sustainable Development workshop held at ICED2019 in Delft, contributing to the Design Society’s AFRICA-DESIGN initiative. The AFRICA-DESIGN initiative  seeks  to build a network of design researchers, educators, and practitioners based in African countries with particular emphasis on design for sustainable development; and to link them with colleagues in the worldwide design community. The initiative builds on the perception of mutual learning opportunities in the challenges that we all share.



In its planning the workshop targeted to  focus mainly on the intersection of four research themes generated in the ICED 2019 Delft workshop and four application domains i.e.


The objective of the workshop was to:

  • Meet up, learn and network and to develop some follow up action items related to the above.

  • Find ideas for common work for ICED 2021 and journal publications.

  • Continue discussions on the mutual relation between engineering design and sustainable development in a global development context, in relation to the African continent.


Format of the Workshop and chronological summary of workshop: what happened in each workshop session, highlighting key results.


14.30 Welcome, introductions

Introductory remarks from Margareta and Panos where the speakers were introduced and universities and institutions were acknowledged.

Additionally, the relevance of Africa Design 2020 and why it is important that we build the network and work collaboratively on the same was stated well articulated.


14.35  Introductory presentations from African colleagues

Chinandu Mwendapole

Botho University


Student Projects and the Commercialisation of Innovative Ideas 

Chinandu presented to us how Botho University through the Department of Jewellery Management and Design is teaching the commercialization of innovative ideas for final year student projects. Chinandu explained the importance of protecting ideas as they are assets and how their students are using trademarks to protect their ideas as they commercialize them. One of the projects was  students   commercializing  African Totems, Ancestors, Gods and Zodiacs (TAGZ). 


Dorothy Okello

Makerere University 


Experiences from CEDAT on Design for Sustainable Development 

Dorothy spoke to us  how Makerere University through The College of Engineering, Design, Art and Technology (CEDAT) has adopted Problem Based Learning (PBL) by bringing  together multi-disciplinary teams and mentors to focus on sustainable solutions to challenges in the community.

This is specifically designed to facilitate knowledge generation on challenges the community is facing, while harnessing collaboration through multi-disciplinary team engagements in order to build international and regional networks.


Camille Meyer 

University of Cape Town 

South Africa

Design for Sustainability 

Camille presented to us the circular economy, how it works and how they are using it in the Fashion industry for Design for Sustainability. Aspects pertaining to the phasing out substances of concern, to increasing clothing utilisation, improving recycling, making effective use of resources and the move to using renewable sources of energy for production were touched on. Additionally, Camille reiterated the importance of creating business models which are restorative and regenerative in the fashion industry.


Jesper Vassel (on behalf of Wycliffe Guguni Nyabade)

Global Development Hub

KTH University Sweden

Implementing Design Thinking at  Strathmore University 

Jesper presented to us an overview of KTH Global Development Hub (GDH), which aims at developing education that leads to innovation competence for global sustainable development.In collaboration with four African partner universities, GDH develops and implements concepts based on challenge-driven education (CDE) where students work on societal challenges based on Agenda 2030.  Strathmore University, one of the universities, is implementing Challenge Driven Education by integrating sustainability projects as a part of regular courses or programs in the university. To facilitate this, a series of workshops have been organised where University professors from different Faculties and Universities are taught and trained on Challenge Driven Education.


15.05 Breakout logistics (moderators, reporters, rules of the game); Goal is to establish collaborations (e.g., joint publications, projects, courses). 

Here participants, aided by the rules of the game were divided into four breakout sessions and while there, the participants were to introduce themselves by stating who they are, where they are from and their affiliation mostly related to research work and projects in Africa. After which the members would identify a common theme or interest in the group and then proceed to discuss the theme with hopes of collaborating in different ways.


Break out room 1

Theme: Education

Moderator: Dorothy Okello


The discussion in breakout room 1 was around  Education as members discussed how Problem Based Learning was implemented in their institutions  and  more specifically how to make practical the joint teaching opportunities available.Joint teaching opportunities propose that two or more institutions  collaborate and learn together and from each other e.g.,informal international teams attending  senior design courses.Additionally how best can it work owing to the different factors that need to be considered such as related costs ,difference in academic systems e.t.c .Additionally,despite all the challenges what is the best way to get more people interested in such projects and more specifically projects that encompass sustainability.A key question was,What type of networks facilitate this type of interaction so that it is more systematic? Is it a marketplace or platform that enables this kind of sharing between students who are on the ground and those abroad? For this question the following platforms were suggested for reference.

Example platforms: 

In conclusion, from the group discussion ,the following ideas were suggested as  possible ways of pursuing  the joint teaching opportunities available.

  • Joint grants for building collaborations and a larger platform/network.
  • Joint publications from the teams.


Break out room 2 

Theme: Effective Resource Usage

Moderator: Camille Meyer


The breakout session consisted of a variety of individuals from different educational backgrounds and levels. The main topic of discussion was the paradigm shift towards a circular economy and what action steps must be taken for such a shift to occur. There was discussion about improving the manufacturing and processing of products themselves to encourage sustainability and establish a foundation for a circular economy. However, the social factors of sustainability are equally as important. The discussion shifted towards the encouragement of behavioral changes in individuals and the way they use their resources and dispose of them. Furthermore, the conditions of the workers in these manufacturing plants were considered, as many of them have toxic and dangerous working conditions. Finally, the shift towards a circular economy must be proven to be cost effective, otherwise there is no incentive for large corporations to make this shift. 


Therefore, there is a paradigm shift that needs to occur within the social perspective and manufacturing perspective to allow for a circular economy to be implemented. People need to change the way they think about buying products and the process for building a product should be designed in a way that supports a circular economy. 



Break out room 3 

Theme: Product System Service

Moderator: Chinandu Mwendapole


The  breakout session consisted of people from various disciplines including Energy, Computing and Mechanical Engineering.A key deliberation was on various opportunities based on the backgrounds and interests of each participant.Renewable energy was identified as a focal point of collaboration especially in relation to sustainability.The team decided to hear more about one of the participants' project which was a Solar powered irrigation system for small scale farmers in Sub Saharan Africa. Additionally, we had a team member present to us their project to commercialize sludge gas for small scale irrigation.

Summatively, the common theme and interest  in the group was renewable energy and more specifically Solar energy .Here the team members discussed and contributed to the two projects that were presented. The team members from different East African institutions built up on the ideas and expressed their interests to collaborate and work together on the different solar related projects. Interestingly, the majority of the team members were working on a solar related project in their home country.

It was noted that Strathmore University has done substantial work in renewable energy and therefore, participants can collaborate around the initiatives that Strathmore University is doing or has identified.

The following were identified:

1. Partnerships/Collaboration around sustainable access to renewable energy

2. Partnerships/Collaboration around engineering design with application to renewable energy

3. Partnerships/Collaboration around sustainable renewable energy system engineering


Break out room 4 

Theme: Innovative Society 

Moderator: Jesper Vasell


In this breakout session, there was dialogue about an innovative society and some of its characteristics. It was mentioned that an innovative society comprises a community that is self-sustainable, that creates a better environment, but also aims to solve the needs and challenges of other communities. The ability to come up with more ideas and solutions is imperative, but these intellectual properties should be protected and supported, not dismissed. The circumstances of how specific technology can be adopted or adapted along with how these technologies can be customised to suit and be applied to local markets should also be determined. 

Human capital is central in the creation of an innovative society, but in order to develop innovative people, training, education and awareness methods should be looked into. Furthermore, non-traditional methods should be used and role models who inspire should be used as examples. School systems should be revised to be able to incorporate innovation into the curriculum from primary through to tertiary level together with offering support and guidance throughout the process.

To summarise the discussion of this session, it can be noted that the interests of the participants focused on innovative society’s being able to transform communities in their locality, as well as the communities of others, with sustainability at the core. Innovative ideas should be supported and protected, with technology being adopted or adapted to suit specific needs. Education, awareness, collaboration and training can help to develop innovative people to be able to create such a society. Furthermore, implementation is fundamental to turn these ideas and knowledge into real solutions. Development on these aspects and identification of application areas will set the tone for how further collaboration can take place.


15.45 Breakout report-back 

During this time we had the reporters from the different breakout sessions report back what they had discussed in their breakout sessions so that all the participants would be able to get a glimpse of what was discussed in the other sessions.Summatively put in the section above.


15.57   Acknowledgements

The Design Society

Design 2020 Workshop Organisers  

Our Amazing Presenters 

Everyone that took time out to participate 

Student Support 


Executive Summary

The change that came with having a virtual tournament due to COVID-19  was a blessing in disguise, as we had the opportunity to have participants from all over the world who maybe would not have been able to attend the physical conference. AFRICA-DESIGN 2020 iterated the same needs that led to its formation. That is, we have wonderful people who are passionate about sustainable change in society, who are doing amazing projects in Africa. However, there is an urgent need to have a platform where we can have all these people  share, collaborate and build up on each other's ideas. AFRICA-DESIGN 2020 was a start to this, but more time and energy needs to be collaboratively and actively pumped in for this cause so that more collaborations can be implemented asserting that the possibilities are endless in what man can create when we work together.


Key Findings

  • A lot of projects around design for sustainable development have been, are being or will be done in Africa. 
  • There is a need to set up more conferences and workshops,  specifically on design for sustainable development in Africa  to  harness  collaborations.
  • There is a need for a platform where interested parties can ‘meet’, converse and engage on the stated projects that are in line with their interests to promote collaboration.
  • Online workshops allow for more reach to interested participants who would not normally be able to attend physically. This way more connections are made, with the aim of creating more collaborations for successful projects. 


Major Challenges 


  • Due to the change to a virtual conference, poor connectivity and lack of a stable internet connection  was a challenge for some participants. 
  • During the discussions  notably some collaboration would take time to be realised due to  COVID-19 affecting the same in many ways. 
  • Holding discussions and keeping time proved to be quite demanding when meeting virtually. Often the essence of time is lost unless someone keeps track, and conversations can take a few minutes to commence, this then leads to time running out just when discussion starts to progress.  


Next steps


  • The summary of the workshop will be made available on the Africa DESIGN website.
  • Partcipiants are encouraged to join the AFRICA-DESIGN LinkedIn group. 
  • A Google Form to collect information from interested parties for Linkedin. The form will also have themes and application areas to choose from that is of interest to the respondent, as well as a section to describe current projects being worked on by the individual or their interests if they currently do not have an ongoing project.
  • Being active on the LinkedIn group to promote conversation and collaboration.
  • We would like to invite more students in the network with  activities aiming specifically to attract students participation will be one focus area going forward.




Participating Institutions/Countries:

  1. Botho University, Botswana
  2. Federal University of Rio De Janeiro, Brazil
  3. Institut National Polytechnique Félix Houphouët-Boigny (INP-HB), Côte D'Ivoire
  4. KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Sweden
  5. Makerere University, Uganda
  6. Purdue University, USA
  7. Stanford University ,USA
  8. Strathmore University, Kenya
  9. University of Cape Town, South Africa
  10. University of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
  11. University of Michigan, USA 


Workshop Organizers:



Margareta Norell Bergendahl, KTH

Susanne Nilsson, KTH

Panos Papalambros, UM


Students supporting:

Anabel Sicko, UM

Dunja Stevanovic, Botho/KTH

Michelle Wanyang, Strathmore/KTH

Paulina Rajski, UM


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