Johannesburg, the metropolitan city of 7 million people, is set to become his launching palace in what could become a global kingdom of mobility.
Mobility is big business in the era of smart cities. Think Uber, Lyft, Curb, Sidecar, Locomute, Phuza Patrol etc. Think the power of software behind these operations and you would have figured Sefalafala’s path.
Working together with a team of students from the Centre for Entrepreneurship at the Wits Business School, Sefalafala took on the #cocreatemycity project, a tightly contested innovation challenge.
Initiated by the Kingdom of the Netherlands Embassy and the City of Johnannesburg at the end of last year, the challenge attracted young entrepreneurs from South African and Dutch universities. They set out to come up with creative solutions to real-life challenges faced by the city of gold.
The challenge focused on five key themes; energy, transport, water, agriculture and health.
Sefalafa’s team took on the transport challenge. They proposed a solution to public transport system in Johannesburg that co-exists with non-motorised transport modes. This speaks to the biggest mobility challenges for the city of gold, and other cities throughout the globe, where multitudes flock in and out daily creating nightmarish traffic congestion.
Sefalafala and his team focused on transforming the image of public transport amongst middle income workers and encouraging the use of slow modes of transportation at the last mile like cycling and walking. He points out that “the last mile is one of the main reasons why many people don’t use public transport.”
For example says Sefalafala, one may have an option to use Gautrain in travelling to work. But then the difficulties that comes with navigating the last mile, from the Gautrain station to the final destination, may force a person to use own car.
“Our solution makes it attractive to use slow mode by introducing gamification through mobile apps that will encourage people to use non-motorised transport thereby making it fun,” he said.
“The game earns one points for using non-motorised transport. These points can be redeemed at local cafes in a system with prices sponsored by corporates that operate within the city.”
He said the solution integrates into current plans of the city including BRT and cycling lanes.
The #cocreatemycity was a 10-day project in which multidisciplinary groups of students from Netherlands and South Africa worked together to produce tangible solutions for urban challenges designated by Johannesburg. The most promising and innovative teams will be implementing their solutions in Johannesburg and will soon visit the Netherlands for a similar project.
Sefalafala comes to this project as a WBS Alumni, Enterprise Development Specialist from Born Global Technologies and Maxum Incubation Manager at The Innovation Hub.
- You might also be interested in a thinking piece written by Mpho Sefalafa: Dimensions of entrepreneurship explained