Concordia VacWork: Creating Localised Solutions In The Internet Economy

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Concordia is a  town in the Northern Cape just outside Springbok. It was originally established as a Rhenish mission station in 1852 and copper mining began in 1853 through to 1983 in the area. The town is of historical interest because it is situated at the origin of mining endeavors in South Africa.

Long before colonial times (prior to 1652), the indigenous peoples (the Khoisan or Nama) of the area extracted raw or "native copper" from the gneiss and granite hills that make up the surrounding Namaqualand Copper belt.

So much has changed since then. The emergence of the Internet has enhanced a way of communication and various aspects of life, even in this small town. People are looking for opportunities and as we have heard, "there have been a lot of trainings in the area" but finding employment remains a challenge.

As a marginalised rural community, Concordia was chosen a host site for the 2023 edition of the ICT and Business Vacation Work programme in the Northern Cape. During the programme, participants get to experience what it takes to build a digital / tech startup while learning a range of business skills.

The Concordian ICT and Business Vacation Work programme is made possible by the Northern Cape Department of Economic Development and Tourism (DEDAT) in the Knowledge Economy and Innovation sub-programme. This is in partnership with the Centre for Public Service Innovation (CPSI), Geekulcha, Startup Business Campus, Nama-khoi Local Municipality and the NCDev Ecosystem with support from mLab Northern Cape.

Building solutions in the Internet Economy

The 22nd of February 2023 marked day 1 of the programme with participants from Concordia and Bulletrap communities. During the 5 days of the programme, participants will be taken through the following:

  • Digital Skills training which started off with creation of email addresses and then following by development in Communication and Collaboration, problem solving skills, information literacy, content creation and content creation.
  • Curating solutions for local problems using digital / tech skills.
  • Each group is treated as a startup and has to make business.

The participants are mentored by technologists, innovation specialists and developers from partner organisations. Having identified a problem, a team had to also outline as to what data informed a need for such a solution.

So far, critical issues for the community are being addressed from energy, gender-based violence, unemployment, youth wellbeing to the environment. These are in the form of software applications, chatbots and campaigns, catering for the community of Concordia.

It is encouraging that 71% of the participants are female and leading a way in providing solutions to make better communities and prepare a better future. This is a learn by doing programme, equipping the participants with skills and and sense of agency to be able to peruse digital businesses as a pathway to self development.

All teams will present their solutions before a panel of judges on the 26th of February where winners will be crowned.