Innovation Ecosystem: collaborative co-creation, a crucial step to modernization?

Prof  Kris Willems
Dr Barend Taute
Mr Edgar Kasenene
Mr Jan Rombouts
Ms Aneesa Rebaney
Ms Elmarie Cronje
Ms Rikalize Reinecke
Ms Thandeka Mbokazi

Dr Barend Taute

Barend Taute recently retired as a manager at the Meraka Institute, CSIR and is currently active as consultant. His goal is to have a meaningful impact on real-world problems and opportunities. This often requires alignment of diverse interests, scoping of needs, mobilising knowledge and crafting creative strategies and solutions.

He has done this successfully in areas as diverse as electromagnetics, radar, safety & security, border control, ICT and cybersecurity in South Africa, on the African continent and with European partners.

To achieve this, he deploys his multi-disciplinary, practical skills and experience with research and development; the innovation ecosystem; technology strategy and policy development; technology support to government; writing technical proposals and reports; contract management; team leadership; facilitated problem solving; futures thinking; business development; as well as local and international collaborative networks with academia, research, industry and government.

Mr Edgar Kasenene

Edgar Kasenene is Head of IoT and Emerging Business Africa for Ericsson Middle East and Africa (MMEA). He Joined Ericsson in 2004 and has more than 17 years of experience in leading organizations and people in a global environment with specific expertise in the areas of Digital Business Development, Project and Programme management, Service Delivery and change leadership.

Edgar also has strong experience from Smart Cities and IoT Business Development in Africa as well as building and leading teams in IP, IT & Cloud accross Sub Saharan Africa. He is an enthusiast fueled by a constant drive for business efficiency across organizations to reach holistic and smart business decisions and results and an evangelist of the opportunities in the digital era. As passionate as he is about the digital era he is even more passionate about the opportunities it creates for Africa.

He has extensive global and local experience having had the privilege to take roles in both MTN and Ericsson across England, South Africa, Zambia, Rwanda, Kenya and Uganda.

Edgar graduated with M.Sc. in Telecommunications Engineering from the University of Manchester in 2004. In addition, he holds a BSc in Electrical Engineering from Makerere University having graduated in 2001.

Mr Jan Rombouts

Jan Rombouts is the Executive Chairman of Belgium Campus ITversity, which was co-founded with Enrico M. Jacobs. Both strongly believe that appropriate skills, combined with the effective exploitation of ICT, are key to developing businesses, local and global markets, and their communities. Research and innovation must directly impact positively on society, whilst forging equitable partnerships between businesses, the public sector, and academia. Globalisation, the potential of technology and access to data open new avenues for business development and regional development. This paves the way for skill-driven economic transformation and social change in South Africa and beyond.

Ms Aneesa Rebaney


University of WitsWatersRand(WITS)


Diploma in Supply Chain Management

Work Experience

  • Company: Liberty
  • Position: Preferential Procurement Specialist
  • Period: Over 10 Years
  • Managed a team of 3 to 4 people over the past 10 years
  • Sourcing lead for the ICT and Intermediary
  • Passionate about transformation in the Supplier Landscape in South Africa, supporter of BEE
  • Responsible for implementation of BEE sourcing strategy’s, tracking and monitoring.
  • Managed Procurement spend of R18 billion to date.
  • Successfully launched the Liberty Blue Skies Enterprise and Supplier Development programme


  • Manchester United & Orlando Pirates Supporter (watch all games when possible)
  • Former swimmer
  • Currently focused on community work
  • Getting involved &supporting initiatives for various charities

Ms Elmarie Cronje

Elmarie Cronje is the Skills Development Facilitator of the EOH Group of companies. She is responsible for developing, managing and executing the learning and development plans in order to meet current and future organisational needs in line with Group strategic objectives and policies, National Skills Development agenda as well as the Group Transformation agenda.


She is an experienced Learning and Development executive with over 20 years’ experience in this sector. Driven by a belief in systems thinking and knowledge sharing, she takes pride in providing the best turn around strategies to enhance team performance and organisational outcomes. As head of EOH HR Central Services, her goals include practical leadership, change management in transformation practices and streamlined integrated systematic training processes.   In addition to her primary job functions, Elmarie holds a Masters of Science in Management of People, Technology and Innovation and is a certified Change Management Foundation practitioner at the APMG –Europe. She won a council award from the Da Vinci Institute for her contribution to Skills Development Practices research in 2018. Elmarie is also involved in the Skills Development Association of South Africa and the Information Technology Association Transformation committee. Speaking engagements include Human Resource Workforce planning at the Workforce Planning & People Analytics Conference. Elmarie also wrote articles for the TFM (Transformation Magazine) around unlocking Skills Development processes and practices in originations. Outside of the office, Elmarie enjoys reading, theater and nature.

Ms Rikalize Reinecke

Rikalize Reynecke (16y) is South Africa youngest entrepreneur and aspiring biologist. She is the owner of La Pieus Aqua, an aquaculture and aquaponics farm in Pretoria.

Rikalize’s vision of feeding Africa is hinged on the age old wisdom of ‘doing more with less’. In developing her decoupled aquaponics concept she has been able to contribute in closing the gap between research findings and the implementation of profitable aquaponics systems. With the development of her micro-aquaponics (i.e. Lapies) units to feed families throughout Africa she continues to showcase the creativity that is keeping the dream of community-based aquaponics systems alive.

Her achievements proof that Aquaponics is proficient of being an imperative driver for the growth of integrated community-based food production systems throughout Africa, particularly in regions with limited resources, such as water scarcity and poor nutrition. She has become a real benchmark of the modern era of aquaponics.

Rikalize has all what it takes to become a real entrepreneur. The secret of her success is that she has been using existing technology in a creative way in solving problems that stand in the way of her dream.

Ms Thandeka Mbokazi

Thandeka Mbokazi is among the 20% bracket of women who study and plan to work in the global technology field. Being outnumbered by men does not deter this young lady at all. Motivated, strong-willed and driven, the bright millennial was born and raised in Soweto, Johannesburg. After graduating from High School in 2012, Thandeka joined the local Toastmaster’s society, a US headquartered non-profit educational organization that operates clubs worldwide for the purpose of promoting communication, public speaking, and leadership skills.

As fate would have it, in late 2014, she attended a morning masterclass in ICT in her local community, where she was introduced to the innovative world of technology and was given the opportunity to apply for a scholarship at Belgium Campus. Three years later, the full-scholarship recipient is studying a Bachelor of Computing, where she has performed exceptionally well as an all-round student.

The daughter of a single mother, the makings of a future leader and passionate advocate for women in ICT, Thandeka is proud of her humble beginnings, as she believes they have motivated her to work harder and embrace the incredible opportunities she has been afforded. As a Deputy President in the Student Representatives Council, she embodies the life force of one of her idols growing up, the late Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, proudly saying, “She was a leader denied to lead, but she never gave up, which makes me think that as women, sometimes the best place to lead from, is from the back, where you become a force to be reckoned with and rise to take lead.”

Prof Kris Willems

Professor Kris Willems, is currently Executive Director of the Botlhale Village an incubation centre of the Belgium Campus (Pretoria, South Africa), pioneering community-based participatory IT knowledge valorisation in Africa.He has more than 30 years of international experience in leading academic and industrial organisations. His experience includes change and operational management in academia and industry.As a researcher he led his own research group, which acquired national and international research funding as well as many industrial contracts. He is the author of several articles in multiple peer-reviewed journals.

As Dean of the Faculty of Engineering Technology at KU Leuven University, Kris Willems has been spearheading the “academisation” process, i.e. the integration of seven engineering technology educational programmes of the Association KU Leuven within KU Leuven university, including the incorporation of a full-fledged research component into the curriculum.He also acquired relevant business experience throughout different positions, e.g. Chief Operation Officer of Eurogenetics (Belgium), co-founder of the spin-off company BioART NV, and founder of a Belgian bio-incubator.

Innovation/business ecosystems represent a genuinely new and exciting model in addressing the wicked problem of sustainable development or innovation.

Successful examples have proven that the competitive edge is determined by the excellence of ecosystem function standards, such as the robustness (i.e. diversity, abundance and flexibility) of the community, the openness of the ecosystem, the extent and quality of the interactions and relationships, the degree of governance flexibility, the capability to create opportunities, and productivity.