Africa has the highest urban growth in the world. The continent’s population is expected to double by 2050. Two-thirds will be absorbed by cities. This means that in the next 30 years, African cities will welcome 950 million new urban dwellers. If this urbanization is a source of great opportunities, it is also and above all a source of real challenges for the municipalities. Indeed, countless problems are raised by this urban explosion. Firstly, public services, whether it is drinking water supply (less than 35% of the urban population has access to it today), access to electricity (no African city is free from power cuts), the existence of roads in good condition, systems and devices for supply and sanitation, collection and treatment of waste … Social, economic, environmental and political issues are at the heart of these major infrastructure projects. At the same time, smart-citization offers new challenges.
The work designed for the Africa Week will conceptually interpret the idea of an integrated solution for the prototyping of essentially digital proximity infrastructures deployed around a resource point in the city dedicated to the transformation of its environment. From an innovation laboratory on the makerspace model, we can deploy, to measure and scale, sovereign infrastructures supported by the populations of the districts. These infrastructures free themselves from the trap of indebtedness and offer integrity in data policies. This is the urban utopia that the HubCity experiment in Togo has been exploring since 2012. COMMUNALIS is actually a variation of hubCity. COMMUNALIS artistically conceptualizes the development of public platforms under municipal patronage as a counter-model to the platform-forming by financial markets in the smart city. These communal platform initiatives would push, if implemented in Africa, the big technological groups that are eyeing the continent out of the market and at the same time serve as entry-level techno-political projects for an expansion of the socio-ecological audience. From the « communalis », the political program of platform communitarianism is developed, which – in addition to cooperative platform cooperativism – aims to create digital commons at the communal level.
The installation consists mainly of a wooden board engraved with the plan of a piece of town (Lomé) above which a machine to produce digital infrastructures levitates. All made in collaborative CNC machines: 3D printers, laser cutters, milling machines, shapers etc. is to emphasize the “digital commons” dimension of these innovative supply, service and communication networks. These “communal” infrastructures are therefore symbolized in the device by falsely abstract forms that the machine draws on a plexiglass support.