AFRICA-DESIGN is an initiative that 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.

After hosting 3 AFRICA-DESIGN  workshops in the  past three years, the organizing team  found that a lot of projects around design for sustainable development have been, are being or will be done in Africa.The team also found that young Africans are interested and willing to engage and ideate on Sustainable Development in Africa and that  there is a need to set up more conferences and workshops, specifically on design for sustainable development in Africa  to  harness  collaborations and  networking. In the same light, there is a need to make the stated events more affordable and accessible to participants all around the globe for diversified and inclusive output, particularly for academic research. To attract, ensure continuity, and promote peer-to-peer learning in design research, student friendly  prices or fee waivers to the above-mentioned events would greatly improve accessibility and attract  more undergraduate students to design research. Furthermore, a platform where interested parties can  regularly ‘meet’, converse, and engage on specific  projects that are in line with their interests will serve to promote collaboration and to supplement annual conferences. Lastly, the COVID-19 pandemic brought with it an opportunity to explore how we can work virtually, alleviating expenses such as for conference participation.

In this spirit, our team launched the AFRICA-DESIGN Barazas.

What are AFRICA-DESIGN Barazas?

The AFRICA-DESIGN Barazas borrow and build their concept from the Swahili word ‘baraza’ - a public meeting place. AFRICA-DESIGN Barazas envision a community-driven series of regular events where members of the design community take the leading role  to  plan out  and hold  a  baraza in their  own style,  generally within AFRICA-DESIGN’s mission. The  Barazas can provide a platform that 1) promotes organic engagement for all interested participants  for action-based exchange of ideas, 2) facilitating networking and collaboration opportunities for parties with similar or complementary interests, 3) creating awareness and sharing/disseminating vital information 4) quick means of getting feedback on the critical issues affecting the target participants/community. 

Main Objective

The Baraza intends to be an action-based platform that will  lead to some kind of positive, solid, fruitful action towards sustainable development in Africa and beyond. 

Guide to Organizing a Baraza

  • Prepare and circulate the Baraza Poster (see template below).
  • The Baraza session can run for a period of  90-120 mins, and can include short breaks depending on how the event organiser sees fit. 
  • The AFRICA-DESIGN Team is able to provide the platform (Zoom), as needed,  and  provide  additional advertising through the Design Society, LinkedIn, and direct email to our AFRICA-DESIGN members. Upon request the AFRICA-DESIGN Team can provide technical support during the session as well as a registration form for the event.
  • The individual/team hosting the baraza will plan the events, speakers, and discussions that will take place.
  • The individual/team hosting should consider having ample time for participants to discuss and exchange ideas at some point during the Baraza.  
  • After hosting a Baraza, the AFRICA-DESIGN Team would appreciate a report/summary notes of the session that will be uploaded to the website for those who were not able to attend.


a) It's a great idea to have open ended questions on the theme on standby, in case the discussions don't kick right off to promote engagement.

b) Be flexible to accommodate diverse persons of different seniority;

c) All remarks and presentations must be precise and concise so as to have adequate time for dialogue and discussions;

d) Record recommendations and emerging issues that require follow up and further action;

e) Record the baraza or take photographs where possible;


The following outline gives an idea on how to conduct a Baraza:

1. Start the (Zoom) meeting before the scheduled time

2. Set the meeting to record the session.

3. Admit participants as they arrive and determine a number that is adequate for you to start.

4. Start the baraza and let the mobiliser/coordinator welcome participants and (if applicable, introduce any of the facilitating institutions)

5. The team leader (coordinator), introduces his/her team, explains to the participants the purpose of the baraza and takes them through the rest of the agenda which may include:

a) General introductions

b) Opening remarks

c) Presentations on basic information about the institution(s) holding the baraza, the concept being discussed (i.e. healthcare), the progress being made so far on the concept(s) for discussion and probably a brief on the relevant pertinent issue(s)/challenges in the society

d) Discussions: (probably in the form of Questions and answer session)

e) Way forward and closing remarks


Post-Baraza Actions

It is advisable to compile a brief but extensive activity report within a week about the baraza. The report should include:

a) A summary of presentations made;

b) Capture issues discussed;

d) Clearly state recommendations as well as emerging issues that need further action;

e) As an annex, the attendance list of all participants.

Thereafter, hold a post-baraza meeting to:

a) Evaluate the baraza;

b) Discuss follow up actions; and

c) Designate a personnel to coordinate follow up actions.


Baraza Poster Template 

Provide a document or poster that has the following information:

  • Title
    • A (working) Title for the Baraza
  • Theme(s)
    • List 1-4 themes that the Baraza intended to fit in
  • Aim of the Baraza 
    • State the Aim of the Baraza
  • Date
    • Indicate the proposed Date (and time) for the Baraza. Be cognisant of the timezones for the various expected participants.
  • Summary of the project(s)/Idea(s) to be discussed
    • Write a brief summary
  • If necessary at this point: {Plan (order of events) of the Baraza
    • Highlight the order of events that shall take place during the Baraza.}


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