This is what the future looks like….
A pop culture of some sort, the Maboneng precinct in Johannesburg is a privately developed urban neighborhood on the east side of Johannesburg CBD. A fully fledged thriving community, Maboneng is home to several independent retail, restaurants and entertainment venues as well as loft apartments, offices, hotels, a museum and creative factory spaces in a connected urban environment.
While innovation has improved by leaps and bounds in the past few years, one feature that has seemed to carry on in a steady downward spiral since the good old days of phones that had battery life which could last for 2 days is ‘battery life itself’. The agonizing aspect of insufficient battery life is felt when travelling, as public charging stations are yet to become a popular thing.
However the Maboneng precinct has a super cool charging station in the form of a street bench. ‘Place of light’ that is what Maboneng means, this Charging bench helps people who are moving around get the chance of charging the battery of cell phones or gadgets that they are carrying. A game changer and an illustration of South African innovation pride.
“The concept is dubbed Isabelo, which in isiZulu language means ‘to share’. The bench is Wi-Fi enabled and solar powered, thus granting people on the street everything they need for a quick smartphone top up while exploring the city or even when just going about their ordinary day’s work.”
Apart from the apparent virtual connectivity problem the bench is solving, it is also serving as a way of bringing people of all walks of life together and playing an important role in reducing South Africa’s digital divide.
The first model was unveiled in Maboneng at the end of May this year, but being a portable bench, isabelo has been making its way around Joburg creating a dynamic innovative city culture. We really hope that this is only just the start and that the rest of South Africa’s cities… and eventually towns will get their own in due course.