Last week Rwanda hosted the third Transform Africa Summit that focused on developing ‘smart cities.’ The meeting, which was held from 1-12 May, convened over 300 mayors of cities across Africa to showcase the components of a smart city. The summit resulted in the presentation of the Africa Smart City Blueprint, a report with a smart city strategy for Africa, as well as an overview of Smart City Programmes across Africa.
Africa’s time is now
It is anticipated that the share of the African urban population, which was at about 36 percent in 2010, will increase to 50 and 60 percent by 2030 and 2050 respectively. With the growing need for urban management, there’s an increasing necessity for intelligent planning of cities to make informed decisions about the correct choice of infrastructure and supporting technology.
As technology drives mobility and connectivity in urbanized societies, African cities continuously seek to establish new infrastructure and city systems that will enable transition, and position them as global leaders and next generation cities. Dr. Hamadoun Touré – Executive Director, Smart Africa
As technology drives mobility and connectivity in urbanized societies, African cities continuously seek to establish new infrastructure and city systems that will enable transition, and position them as global leaders and next generation cities.
Africa Smart City Blueprint
One of the results of the summit was the communication of the Africa Smart City Blueprint. This blueprint demonstrates that the ‘smart cities’ framework powerfully focuses Africa’s attention on the factors that make a city conducive to growth, health, and sustainability. It also offers a platform to bring all stakeholders together to find the best solutions for each individual municipality. Crucially, these technologies also provide new ways to track progress toward the goals we set, and for citizens to contribute actively to the process along the way.
The blueprint provides an overview of Smart City Programmes across Africa, as well as strategic recommendations. Africa is the next frontier for innovation in the smart cities arena. There are already many examples of successful initiatives in Africa ranging from eParking solutions in Nairobi to “irembo” in Rwanda, a one-stop online portal for e-government services.
These initiatives are borne from embracing the very specific challenges, opportunities, and nuances in the African continent. City officials most often manage public utilities and services. Therefore, smart city initiatives that enhance the quality and sustainability of these services using technology must be embraced at public institutional levels.
The question African city leaders grapple with is how do they institutionalize these initiatives? This blueprint provides guidance on how to conceptualize, plan, finance and implement smart cities initiatives. Defining your context and discussing a strategy is the first step in this transformational journey.
*) Image: Ludovic Hirlimann (CC)