The Centre for Community Technologies at Nelson Mandela University aims to promote radical development of the human potential of particularly disadvantaged communities through the use of technologies. It is the aim of the CCT to promote policy interventions aimed at lowering market costs of technologies which hold significant prospects for social and economic empowerment of poor communities.

It furthermore aims to develop best practice strategies in collaboration with community actors that demonstrate effective ways of harnessing technological innovations in support of social and economic empowerment of the poor. It is envisaged that such aims will be achieved through strategic partnerships with interest groups in communities working on progressive experiments requiring the use of responsive technologies to form part of broader social strategies aimed at promoting equality, reducing poverty, fostering job creation and entrepreneurship as well as democratic participation in society. Ultimately, the research and engagement activities undertaken in the CCT will lead to a better understanding of how innovations in science and technology could enhance the living and working conditions of poor and vulnerable groups in society.

One of the major challenges facing most developing countries such as South Africa today is how to take full and smart advantage of quite spectacular and far-reaching advances in science and technology not only in promoting national economic development, but particularly addressing the needs of poor and marginalised sections of society. Whilst technology access in the pre-digital era has always been a major barrier to economic and social development in developing countries, this is no longer an absolute barrier for at least three reasons: firstly, the proliferation of distributive and open technologies, and limits to the power of proprietary frameworks; secondly, the increasingly lower delivery cost of new technologies; and thirdly, the emergence of multiple sources of technology innovation and development in civil society.

The Centre focuses on a variety of topics as illustrated in the image below.