Establishing Uganda’s first “learning living lab” at Kajjansi, Wakiso District
A consortium of local and international development partners are setting up Uganda’s first “learning living lab” at the Kajjansi junction in Wakiso District. In this living lab the partners will develop, test and implement innovative solutions that boosts the local economy, create opportunities for young entrepreneurship and have a positive impact on the environment around Kajjansi town and its environs. The guiding principles of the learning living lab will be innovation, local entrepreneurship, inclusion and sustainability: “Creating value for the local economy, people and the environment”. A learning living labs is A living lab is a research concept. A living lab is a user-centred, open-innovation ecosystem, often operating in a territorial context (e.g. city, agglomeration, region), integrating concurrent research and innovation processes within a public-private-people partnership.
The Kajjansi learning living lab will use the inclusive and circular models to create and incubate real ‘green’ businesses and ‘green’ jobs out of opportunities that are often ignored. The circular model works on the concept that there is no waste in any eco-system. One actor’s waste is another actor’s resource. By actualising this concept the learning living lab will create new and hitherto overlooked yet resource rich opportunities in waste, water and energy, solar solutions, healthy environment, agri-food distribution which can attract the youth into green self employment and green entrepreneurship .
Kajjansi area has been selected because of the ongoing major national infrastructure developments which may displace or leave behind the local community in harnessing of economic opportunities. These developments include the building of the Entebbe-Kampala express highway, the Southern Bypass and the road interchange. These developments may be a blessing or a curse for the people of Kajjansi area. If managed in a sustainable way these developments can be harnessed into opportunities for the local community. In addition there are 30 large industries and businesses including a clay works, a steel plant, large flower farms and tea plantations, a national hospital, a light craft airfield, and major current and proposed housing estates around Kajjansi junction which can be integrated and developed into a circular economy for Kajjansi junction.
This living lab is the outcome of the inception phase of a project aimed at ‘Developing an integral spatial
development strategy with Inclusive, circular Business opportunities for the Kajjansi junction. The partners in this initiative include Uganda Local Government Association (ULGA), Wakiso District Council, Kajjansi Town Council and CSR-Netherlands MVO-Nederland, DASUDA, The City of Utrecht and BSpace .To lay the foundation for this an MOU has been signed with Wakiso District local government in which the local government will legally gazette Kajjansi junction to become an ‘Urban learning living lab’.
A carefully selected steering committee, consisting of representatives of the town, district and central authorities and the local business community, will be responsible for the overall management of the Learning Living lab and the final approval of the solutions and business propositions being proposed by the partners. The Steering Committee will also make sure that these solutions are aligned with the spatial and LED plans for the area. They will be supported in their tasks by ULGA and a Dutch team of experts from the Municipality of Utrecht, CSR Netherlands/TwentyOne and Dasuda. A crucial element in the whole process is the ‘learning’. All experiments that take place in the “Kajjansi Living Lab” will be carefully monitored, so that each actor involved knows what his/her role is to make the experiment a success and to replicate it in another area.
Existing examples of innovative and sustainable Kajjansi businesses already exist. Take the Purifaaya ceramic water filter. This product is made by Spouts of water who use the clay of Kajjansi and the saw dust of local carpenters to make a very effective ceramic water filter that can be used by local households and businesses . This example shows that a business can be developed by optimally using the local resources and waste streams of the Kajjansi area.