Chat, trade, play – MXit is a free instant messaging application that runs on smart phones but also on most feature phones with WAP.
The service  currently has about 10 million active subscribers, making it the largest social network in Africa. Currently supporting features such as group chats, file sharing and apps Mxit is still expanding it’s features.
A recent development allows the users of Mxit to make use of it as a mobile payment system.

If you are not part of creating the evolution – your skills will always be a step behind

“Alone you can repair cellphones forever – but if you are not a part of the evolution your skills will always be a step behind”.


Transforming local digital know-how into Frugal Digital ingenuity

The current mobile penetration rate in South Africa is estimated to 84% – and still expanding. This equals more than 42.3 million active cellphone users let alone the rest of the African continent. No wonder that in Cape Town repairing cellphones has become booming business. With a new cellphone repair shop popping up on every street corner, an outbreak of digital know-how seems to snowball through the city streets and into society – fueled by a vast public demand for cheap, flexible maintenance and repair services on a day to day basis.
Today the most valuable knowledge within the community relates directly to repairing devices.
How can we encourage the existing community to find more creative ways to apply and evolve their skills to transform existing digital know-how into innovative examples of Frugal Digital ingenuity ?

Unlocking community know-how

To people within the cellphone repair community in Cape Town knowledge is a private thing – because if it becomes too public you could loose your customers to somebody else. Most cellphone repairers prefer to work alone also for that reason – even if they are part of an informal community. A community where people hesitate to share is a disempowered community. Can we encourage more open sharing of knowledge and inspire a creative thinking around it to increase it’s value and potential?

Safeguarding water or the metal?

Pilfering metal taps to sell as scrap metal is common place in India. But pilfering water from a community bore seems more commonplace now. Putting a lock on the tap seems to have its message clear!

Can there be digital solutions to water woes – Measuring salinity and purity, disinfecting, dosing supply or safe guarding the resource?

Frugal Disinfecting

In the most remote villages, which are off the grid, how can we sterilize medical equipment to perform the most basic procedures?

Here were some very simple ideas we saw: (Left) A pressure cooker repurposed with a gauge to work like a simple auto clave; (Right) A OT sterilizer which works on a single phase electricity and consumes 0.15 Kwh can work in places with little electricity or even off a truck battery.


Street Speakers

In a large democracy, it seems, its quite hard to get your voice heard. Put to effective use is electronics here, by local repair shops who can basically hack any music system and add speakers of any size and help fit it onto your vehicles. Very effective for mobile propaganda, particularly if you have to louder that the street’s bustling sounds.

Machine drills for a bargain!

Every single tool finds a second life in the back alleys of Mumbai. Shops specialise in the kind of components they source and sell; here is a shop selling just power drills of every brand and every specification.


What if we made a mobile phone…

At a mobile phone repair institute, the teacher had made a “mobile phone” using regular electronic parts to explain how SMDs have been a game changer in reducing the size, scale and performance of mobile phones. thought it was an interesting analogy.

Ubiquitous mobile phones

A man at a public telephone booth (Public Call Office, PCO in India) using a mobile phone.

Many people seamlessly change between their mobile phones and the telephones to take advantage of the calling rates. Its often cheaper or no call at all to receive calls, while it is often cheaper to use the telephone to make calls.