EWB-UKZN Social Impact Project

EWB-UKZN Social Impact Project: A need for industry 4.0 in cross-border communication and rural technical education

Tofo, a stunning coastal town, well renowned for tourist activities like fishing and entertainment, and probably is one of the most beautiful villages to visit in Mozmabique. Tofo has a good telecommunication infrastructure for communicating and sharing holiday experiences. The Tofo area has access to electricity, and clean water. The main sources of income for the community are fishing, woodwork, agriculture and tourism. Underneath the façade of tranquility, leisure and relaxation a real problem lingers concerning poverty, alcoholism, skills-development, entrepreneurship, disease and natural disasters, and the evidence of these social and environmental issues can be seen when walking through the markets and village streets.

Tofo is often struck with tropical storms and cyclones, which leads to communities being harshly affected and under prepared due to the low level of infrastructure. Malaria is one of the biggest killers in Mozambique as it is a continental epidemic and the lack of medication increases the risk of death. Mozambique is the sixth poorest country in the world rated in 2019 and is struggling with corruption, political instability and a haunting history of 15-year civil war that ended in 1992. Education is limited in Tofo to a 7th grade level where after the students have to travel to other villages to further their education until matric. Technical skills are extremely limited to basic selling and buying, carpentry and fishing. Terrorist attacks in the north of Mozambique has affected the attractiveness of Tofo and this has affected the amount of financial injection from tourism into the community for Tofo to grow economically.

To sustain themselves, the community believes their main source of income would be to improve their tourism industry. To achieve a flourishing tourism industry, improving the skill set of the employees in their respective sectors would prove vital. This need has been identified in the fishing sector to replace pull starter engines with switch engines for their boats. However, basic mechanical skills will be required to mount and service these engines. In the carpentry industry the need for improved machinery and tools is evident. The agricultural sector is inclined towards the farming of cassava however; introduction of new crops and livestock breeding would be beneficial.

A real need has been identified to inject skills development programs into the community of Tofo. Economic empowerment for the inhabitants on a local and national level is required for Tofo to be able to compete and grow the economy through business aids, technical skills and mentorship is required to encourage the residents of Tofo. The real need lies in the difficulty of direct training and transferring of skills through outreach trips, which occur infrequently, possesses an input cost and the risk of trainees forgetting what they have learned and lack of motivation and encourage to develop their skill sets. A solution is required to implement a digital classroom whereby knowledge can be transferred on a weekly basis between a training room in Durban, South Africa and a mobile classroom in the market with an interpreter in Tofo, Mozambique.

An initiative called the Social Impact Project started by EWB-SA and distributed throughout South African universities has generated awareness of socio-economic problems for university chapters to solve. EWB-UKZN chapter is collaborating with churches, NGO’s and professional associations namely CityGate churchGlenridge churchFreedom House Ballito churchCapital City Church International and the honorary society Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers-HKN UKZN chapter. A need has been recognized for utilizing industry 4.0 in communicating and training the community of Tofo in field of agriculture, business and electronics and how these skills can improve the living conditions and way of living.

The first outreach was inspired in 2009 by Shaun Reid from CityGate church and experienced first-hand the struggle of the community of Tofo. Year after year, an annual outreach mission has been conducted to aid the community, supplying hygiene packs, carpentry aids like wood glue and engaging the community in a positive space through coaching and mentoring. The outreaches inadvertently also introduces some financial support to the community by purchasing goods and souvenirs. These outreaches even though have an encouraging effect are not sustainable in the long run for effective skills development and mentorship.

A creation of an interactive digital classroom in Tofo will lead to training the people in the communities on the skills they need to develop their various sectors. This will cut the cost of travel for personnel. The training includes basic mechanical skills, carpentry designs and agricultural solutions. This improved skill set will lead to growth in individuals’ businesses. The digital classroom serves to be the solution for continual hours of training at a reduced cost. In the case of the agricultural sector, the project looks to train people in the breeding of chickens by incorporating the use of incubators for the egg hatching process.

IEEE-Eta Kappa Nu (IEEE-HKN) is an international honour society (pioneer Electrical Engineering honour society) dedicated to encouraging and recognizing excellence in the fields of Electrical, Electronic and Computer engineering. The UKZN chapter (Mu Eta), specifically, places focus on positively impacting the surrounding community by leveraging our unique technical engineering skillset. The role of IEEE-HKN Mu Eta Chapter in this project is to develop a basic training programme that guides users to build and maintain an electronic-based system (e.g. an automated egg incubator). Through this programme, community members will be introduced to and educated on basic electronic principles. This will not only enable the community with the technical skillset to pursue future community-development endeavours, but can additionally improve their current lifestyle by employing electronic solutions to everyday problems. Thus, enabling community members with an electronic-based skillset can reap huge short-term and long-term socio-economic benefits.

The knowledge of this technology will not only improve the lives of the individuals involved in the training but also improve the life of the community as a whole. This would give the youth a purpose and potentially lower the alcoholism level. Employment opportunities will arise in South Africa for the team that trains as well as in Tofo for the team that actually implements the various projects facilitated by the trainer in the interactive classroom. Another scenario where the interactive training sessions would be beneficial is training individuals with basic mechanical skills in order to repair air-conditioners for example.

The interactive classrooms will provide social upliftment, skills development and allow members of Tofo who want to develop themselves access to skills training. As the project grows, there would be need for accreditation of skills and employment to assist with training. This will be an opportunity to generate employment on a greater scale in both Mozambique and South Africa. Introducing an industry 4.0 solution also allows for access to maintenance training for electronic applications.

For more insight, have a look at these videos

Carpentry aid handover.mp4

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.