Centre for Frugal Innovation in Africa
Frugal innovation means making products and services affordable for emerging economies without compromising on user value. The Centre for Frugal Innovation in Africa looks at the impact of frugal innovation(s) on the lives of those involved and on the African economies.
Saradindu Bhaduri holds Prince Claus Chair
Dr. Saradindu Bhaduri, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, India, has been appointed to the Prince Claus Chair of Development and Equity as from 1 September. During the next two years, he will be conducting research on frugal innovation ‘by and for the poor’, with a focus on informal sector innovation. He will collaborate extensively with researchers from the Centre for Frugal Innovation in Africa. On 27 November, Dr. Bhaduri delivered a lecture entitled 'Policies for Frugal Innovation in the Global South: a Critical Analysis'. The occasion was the Centre for Frugal Innovation’s conference on the links between frugal and inclusive innovation.
‘Mobile money’ as a frugal innovation
Since 2014, kiosks have been popping up in cities all over Zambia allowing people to conduct financial transactions using their mobile phones. In recent months, Iva Peša, a post-doc working at the Centre for Frugal Innovation in Africa, spoke to about 50 kiosk managers and their staff in the city of Kikwe to find out what this frugal innovation means to them. Peša: ‘Most people don’t have access to banks. Either there are no local banks, or people need a certain minimum income to open an account. Major multinational telecommunications companies in Africa have jumped in to fill the gap. They employ an entire network of agents that manage the kiosks and so-called ‘tellers' that actually deal with the numbers. Customers primarily use this as a payment method, but they sometimes also have credit on their telephones. They bring cash to one of the kiosks, present their ID and create a pin code. The agent then sends the payment to another agent, who disburses the amount’.
Through her fieldwork, Iva Peša is helping to tackle the Centre’s key questions about the impact of frugal innovation. Peša: ‘The potential of frugal innovation is a topic of widespread debate: does this lead to economic development, or is it just another form of capitalist exploitation that only serves to increase poverty? So far, discussions and the available literature have remained highly theoretical– very little fieldwork has been conducted. That’s why, through my fieldwork in Zambia, I’m highlighting several cases. Each small story contributes to the overall discussion’. Peša is examining the phenomenon of ‘mobile money’ primarily from the perspective of the agents, the kiosk managers who are often labelled as Zambia’s pre-eminent new entrepreneurs. Who are they, what do they have planned for the future, who are their customers and how will it help them in the long term? Peša: ‘They’re doing quite well, and some of them are turning significant profits. But their livelihood is also uncertain. If more competition hits the scene, profit margins will fall. It’s interesting to note that it’s a franchise system. The telecommunications companies do not take responsibility for their agents – they receive training and promotional materials, and then they’re on their own. There’s also much inequality between the agents and the ‘tellers’. The latter have just finished school and earn very little, but see it as the first step on their career ladder. To be able to really comment on the impact of this system on the Zambians and their economy, you need to look at the system as a whole– which includes the users. Together with colleagues from the African Studies Centre in Leiden, we’re examining the complete African ‘mobile money’ system. This process was started in Kenya as early as 2007’.
Iva Peša also researched other frugal innovations in Zambia in terms of housing, cooking and water supply. Last November she published an article introducing her findings.
See also The story of the Frugal Thermometer
Centre for Fugal Innovation in Africa
Centre for Metropolis and Mainport
The Centre for Metropolis & Mainport focuses on ports as global and regional hubs as a means of achieving sustainable transport and synergy with the port cities. The Port of Rotterdam is a key area of focus.
Ports for safer and more sustainable world trade
On 13 November, Rob Zuidwijk gave his inaugural address as professor of ‘Ports in global networks’ at Erasmus University Rotterdam. Zuidwijk is scientific director of the Leiden-Delft-Erasmus Centre for Metropolis and Mainport, in which the new chair is set to play an important role. In his address, entitled ‘Are we Connected’, Zuidwijk argued that ports should not only serve as hubs in international logistical networks, but also as part of organisational and information networks. If all three are effectively coordinated, this not only serves to boost the economy, but also improves environmental performance and makes world trade safer. He also described the networks of container transport, logistical information systems and sustainable supply chains.
In this new chair, Prof. Rob Zuidwijk will focus on the coordination required to achieve sustainable, worldwide supply chains and synchromodal transport networks. These are networks in which various modes of transport are deployed in a flexible and integrated way to respond more effectively to customer demand, as well as helping to meet the requirements of sustainability and contributing to transorganisational logistical information systems.
Centre for Metropolis and Mainport
Centre for Education and Learning
The Leiden-Delft-Erasmus Centre for Education and Learning is an interuniversity and interdisciplinary research centre as well as an innovation and training platform focusing on university teaching and learning.
Research programme launched
In the past months, the centre’s research programme on ‘Student engagement and achievement in open online higher education’ was launched. This programme is an experimental as well as a theoretical quest for the succes factors for open online education. How can universities implement online education in such a way that students get the most out of it? Two PhD-students are working on this problem, under the supervision of professors from all three universities.Tim van der Zee studies the role of the teacher in open online education and Daniel Davis conducts experimental research into the digital learning environment itself.
To the website
Leadership in Education Course
On 28 August, the final session of the ‘Leergang Onderwijskundig Leiderschap 2014-2015’ took place in Rotterdam. The participants – programme directors and coordinators from the three universities – presented the innovation projects they had developed and carried out in their own universities. The Leadership in Education Course was designed specifically for them. Because no matter how good a researcher or lecturer you are, creating policy, developing innovations and playing the political game of soliciting support is a subject in itself.
Second Annual Meeting
On Friday, 2 October, the second annual meeting of the Leiden-Delft-Erasmus Centre for Education and Learning was held. It was entitled 'Cutting Edge Advancements in Education and Learning'. Topics were European higher education policy, a research agenda for MOOCs, engaging students through gamification, and developments in virtual reality and immersive learning.
First Academic Teaching Lab
On 26 and 27 November, 11 selected teachers from the universities of Leiden-Delft-Erasmus gathered in Dordrecht to design innovation projects, transform their courses and improve university education. They were supported by a team of experts from the three universities and by external specialists.
Innovation Room on Serious Gaming
The Centre for Education and Learning organises ‘CEL Innovation Rooms’ for university teachers and educational developers. CEL Innovation Room #4 is planned for 18 December and focuses on Serious Gaming. Researchers will present studies on serious gaming that provide evidence for its positive effects on student motivation and learning. In addition, teachers who have implemented gamification in their courses will explain how they developed the materials and how students experienced the games.
Centre for Sustainability
The Centre for Sustainability focuses on scarcity and the environmental impact of raw materials and on the transition to a circular economy, in which raw materials are recycled.
‘Circular Economy’ MOOC
The MOOC entitled ‘The Circular Economy: an introduction’ started on 20 October. This ‘Massive Open Online Course' was developed by TU Delft, in partnership with the Leiden-Delft-Erasmus Centre for Sustainability and the Ellen MacArthur Foundation. More than 7,000 people from 155 countries signed up for the course.
It is expected that by 2050 the world population will have grown to 9 billion people. By that time, the existing model, in which we consume raw materials and discharge waste into the ecosystem, will no longer be viable.
The MOOC therefore explores concepts, strategies, business models and technologies for a circular economy, in which raw materials are recycled rather than exhausted. You can also learn how to make your own contribution to this effort, as it calls on you to ‘be a leader in this paradigm shift’. The MOOC features lecturers from Leiden, TU Delft and Erasmus University Rotterdam. It is still possible to join the MOOC and in January 2016, it will be launched on the Edx platform as a ‘self-paced’ MOOC for an extended period, featuring a forum for discussion. This will enable anyone interested to follow the course at their own pace. After that, all the videos will be posted on TU Delft OpenCourseWare.
Go to the MOOC
Follow the MOOC on Twitter and view the introductory video
‘The Great Urban Bake-Off’
On 13 November, Ellen van Bueren, professor of Urban Development Management at TU Delft and a key figure in the Leiden-Delft-Erasmus Centre for Sustainability, provided some insight into her research in her speech entitled ‘The Great Urban Bake-Off’. Her question was: ‘How can we bake the perfect cake?’ Or in terms of her chair: how do we create good and sustainable cities? Cities where people enjoy living, working and spending time, but where there is also a focus on people, the environment and the economy: adaptive, green, resilient, climate-proof and smart cities. These kinds of cities call for new ingredients, such as affordable, decentralised technologies to generate, supply, process and reuse energy and water. With systems becoming integrated and interconnected, traditional roles are now under pressure. Citizens are no longer consumers of energy, but have their own solar cells on their roofs. Van Bueren: ‘The players in this new world are different from those traditionally involved in urban development, such as municipalities, housing associations and property developers. ICT firms, energy companies, consumers, water authorities, care institutions, as well as businesses such as IKEA or Tesla are now entering the fray. The kitchen is filled with numerous chefs, each bringing their own book of recipes. The question is: how will all these chefs put their recipes together to create a menu?' In her brand-new chair, Ellen van Bueren plans to fill the storage cupboard with new knowledge of the processes, mechanisms and incentive structures that occur in processes of urban development in order to identify appropriate forms of control and management.
Centre for Sustainability