uMAMA congratulates masters graduates

On 7 December 2016, three uMAMA masters researchers successfully graduated with their degrees:

Reshmi Joseph Muringathuparambil (cum Laude), thesis title: Typology of representative building desings within townships for energy efficiency in the City of Cape Town;

Sumaya Mohamed (cum Laude), thesis title: Assessment of the City of Cape Town’s energy efficiency programmes within its internal operations; and

Ebenaezer Appies, thesis title: Energy infrastructure transition in urban informal households in South Africa.

We wish them success in all their future endeavours.

Josephine and Reshmi2

Photo: Reshmi Muringathuparambil with her Supervisor, Prof Josephine Kaviti Musango

uMAMA researchers participate at International Renewable Energy Conference

On 26 – 28 October, uMAMA Research Group Leader, Dr Josephine Musango and PhD researcher, Suzanne Smit, participated at the International Renewable Energy Conference held in Gaborone, Botswana.

A paper titled, 'an investigation into energy flows in urban slums in an African context' was presented, which is also co-authored with Dr Zora Kovacic and Professor Alan Brent of Industrial Engineering and uMAMA Research Group co-Leader. The paper argues that we need to understand the
material reality of slums and their role as complex subsystems that affect and are affected by the wider urban system. Furthermore, we need to challenge our conceptions and assumptions about slums and their inhabitants and engage in real world, bottom-up research that portrays the material reality of these spaces if we ever want to provide affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all.


Registration for 4ASDC

You are kindly reminded to register for the Fourth Annual System Dynamics Conference (4ASDC) which will take place in Stellenbosch on 17-18 November using the link:
Proof of registration fees payment should be send to and
Registration deadline has been extended to
25 October 2016.
Please note that the conference venue is:
Markötter, Paul Roos, Stellenbosch. Conference Schedule is available here and information on the directions to the venue and possible accommodation around Stellenbosch is available here.
If you have any queries please contact Josephine and Mapule on and  respectively.


World Climate Simulation

A climate change role-playing game was hosted by SPL and facilitated by Climate Interactive on June 9th. Participants directly experienced the challenges involved in negotiating equitable and realistic targets for carbon emission reductions needed for climate change mitigation. The process was supported by a system dynamics modelling tool, which showed everyone the results of their actions for each round of the game.

Our facilitators: Ellie (top) and Grace (bottom)

With a goal to ensure that global temperatures would not rise beyond 2 degrees Celsius by 2100, participants were split into five groups of nations (USA, European Union, Other Developed Countries, China, India, and Other Developing Nations) as well as two advocacy groups (Civil Society and the Oil Lobby).

For three rounds, each nation-group would present their policy commitments.

These included:
  • the year at which nations would stop increasing carbon emissions
  • the year at which they would begin reducing carbon emissions
  • the rate at which they would reduce their emissions
  • adopting policies to halt deforestation
  • adopting policies to increase afforestation efforts
These five pledges for each nation-group were entered into the model and the resulting reduction in temperature was shown.

Between each round of committments, the facilitators would show some results of this temperature rise - in a light-hearted, but serious manner. (Europe under water)

Nation-groups would then negotiate their next commitments, which allowed participants to explore their perceptions of each nation-group, how they contribute to climate change, and the perceived power differences between groups.

The event required no modelling or technical knowledge from participants, yet the model offered very intuitive, if unexpected results. The whole process also required participants to engage in systems thinking.
Participants voiced a few key lessons:
  • a large amount of work is required to reduce carbon emissions to an adequate level
  • those which may offer the largest mitigation impact mitigation may have the least political power
  • the realities of climate change are often not apparent to those engaged in negotiations
  • civil society would need to make use of strategic interventions to have their message heard

Second Chicago Forum for Global Cities

Excited Matie student, George Frederick (Rickus) Cronje is back from meeting global leaders at the Chicago Forum for Global Cities held on 1 – 3 June 2016 in Chicago, USA.

The conference brought together global leaders from business, education, culture and civics. Topics were addressed in the form of panel discussions where a variety of global cities were represented. The panel discussions were superbly moderated by Financial Times journalists and ranged from topics such as transportation hubs to cultural heritage, safety threats, inclusivity, disruptive technologies, climate change and many more. All panel discussions can be freely accessed online at:

At the conference, ‘I served as Stellenbosch University's representative and formed part of the Student Delegation. The Student Delegation consisted of 28 students from 21 different countries and I was the only African student’, says Rickus.

An experience and food for thought that stood out for Rickus was his engagement with Claudio Orrego, Governor of the Metropolitan Region of Santiago, Chile. Claudio emphasised that ‘if we want to decrease violence in cities we should invest in high quality infrastructure in the poorest communities of cities. We build social ghettos and then wonder why there is violence’.

Claudio’s argument relates well with Rickus Master’s research which is titled: A Business Case for Renewable Energy Technology Leapfrogging in Informal Settlements, supervised by Dr Josephine Kaviti Musango at School of Public Leadership and co-supervised by Imke de Kock at Industrial Engineering. His Masters study is part of urban Modelling and Metabolism Assessment (uMAMA), a research team within the Centre for Complex Systems in Transitions (CST), which aims to engage with various stakeholders ranging from city planners, decision-makers, scholars and civil society in co-creating sustainable cities and communities. Rickus has a heart for community development and would like to use his new-found perspective in being a catalyst for change in underserved communities.

Rickus’ nomination and selection to participate at the 2nd Chicago Forum on Global Cities came through the Postgraduate & International Office and School of Public Leadership.

previous story:

Our Student Delegation:
Myself and Ivo Daalber, President, The Chicago Council on Global Affairs:

Myself at the Chicago Forum on Global Cities: