A shift in paradigm – entrepreneurs develop business solutions to fix Dar es Salaam water supply system

The United Nations agreed upon 17 sustainable development goals, among which access to clean water is one. No doubt, what is evident in London and New York – to open a tap and have access to water is still far from being realized in Dar es Salaam. This spring, a design thinkingworkshop formulated a set of ambitious challenges that, if solved, can cure Dar es Salaam's water supply and management system. What has happened since? Many teams became engaged and developed solutions that address specific topics of relevance to the water system. At the end, two teams have been selected and where given special coaching for a couple of months.

Being part of the panel that selected those two teams, I can confess it was a difficult choice. One does not often encounter such enthusiasm and dedication – most of the team members were students or had finished their studies – working long nights to sharpen their business proposals. At the end, one team will present their case at the Smart City Expo World Congress in Barcelona – offering investors to buy into their business plan.

We are entering a new path – real challenges can become  goldmines to investors – to explore those goldmines, one needs entrepreneurs who recognize attractive solutions and are dedicated to make a business out of it. The entrepreneurial spirit at institutions in Dar like UDSM, DIT and Ardhi is thriving. Everybody, however, recognizes existing problems. The Negawatt Challenge provides a great opportunity to develop entrepreneurial skills and show that recognizing a good problem is the first step in becoming a successful entrepreneur.

Dar has a lot of good problems to crack – in the wake of Negawatt - we will see more and more entrepreneurs taking care of solutions.

Prof. Ramon Wyss, Vice President for foreign affairs, KTH Royal institute of technology