Department of Science and Technology launches app to fight xenophobia


JOHANNESBURG – AS PART of its own anti-xenophobia campaign‚ the Department of Science and Technology on Friday launched an online application where people can both pledge their support against xenophobia and also report incidents thereof.

The We Are Africa app captures geographic locations of users, as well as personal information to log incidents of xenophobia. The app has a twitter feed updating users on #WeAreAfrica.

The app is currently available ( through a web browser but will be available on android systems by next week. The developers at Mobile Lab‚ a mobile solutions laboratory located at Tshwane’s Innovation Hub‚ said they would increase the app’s features for information sharing on all platforms as user information came in.

The app could soon be used to assist in police investigations. Mobile Lab CEO Derrick Kotze said ethical and legal considerations around what constituted police evidence still needed to be investigated. He said the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) was in discussions on the topic with stakeholders.

Mr Kotze said the user information analysis would lead to more opportunities to innovate software that could potentially assist in reducing xenophobia.

“As a campaign-driven app‚ getting this data would be important in evolving it into something more useful‚” he said.

The app designers were challenged by the Department of Science and Technology to develop the app as a rapid response innovation and wrote it within two days‚ working through the night until it was complete.

The team‚ which consists of three South Africans‚ a Democratic Republic of Congo national and an Angolan national‚ said the recent xenophobic violence motivated them to work together and complete the task.

“It motivated us‚ knowing that xenophobia is going on pushed us harder to prove that there is no such thing as being separated‚” said Tchisseke Vincente‚ one of the app developers.

“Given the reach of mobile technology‚ the development of the app is a very important intervention‚” said Science and Technology Minister Naledi Pandor‚ who pledged her support against xenophobia at the CSIR international convention centre in Pretoria. She said that the department wanted an immediate intervention to improve discourse and show standing support against the violence.

RDM News Wire