The advent of technology has made things a whole lot easier than it used to be. Prior, people around the world have only been acquainted with the regular kind of cities, the city known for its infrastructure—extensive housing, transportation, utilities, land use, and populations. The regular cities where humans do about 70% while technology does 30%. But the evolution of technology creates an awareness that opened eyes to how much easier their life could be if a larger percentage of technology is infused. It creates an awareness of how technology can be efficiently optimized for city operations and services for the benefit of the citizens.
All over the world, governments are embracing this evolution and also seeking for means to integrate it into their systems. Most countries are considering smart cities while some like; UAE, Spain, England, Netherlands, China, Sweden, the USA, Singapore have successfully built smart cities.
A Smart City is a city or an urban area that makes use of IoT (Internet of Things) sensors in collecting data. It uses data to efficiently manage assets and resources. This data are collected from the citizens, devices, and assets, and analyzed to monitor most of the essential utilities of the city like traffic and transportation systems, power plants, water supply networks, waste management, crime detection, information systems, schools, libraries, hospitals, and other community services.
In the city of Barcelona for example, everything is closely connected. The street lamps have sensors that let it adjust to the time of the day by automatically switching on if it is night time and going off if it is day time. There are indicators and sensors that can communicate the fastest way to avert traffic. There are also sensors in water pipelines that alert the water maintenance department about a leakage.
Generally, Smart Cities improve the quality of lives of their residents. They mostly use a mobile app to give fast access to traffic information, road conditions, waste management and more. It is very beneficial to the citizens but super expensive to acquire and maintain, little wonder it is available in few countries. Africa has in recent years, shown interest in smart cities. Countries like Kenya, Nigeria, Ghana, Rwanda, and South Africa has already begun the Smart City journey. Below are some smart city projects in Africa:
Konza Techno City, Kenya: Approved in 2008 by the Kenyan government, the city is Kenya’s vision 2030. With a construction cost of about Kshs 1.2 trillion, Konza Techno City is an urban initiative that is located about 60 kilometres South East of Nairobi, on 5000 acres of land. The tech hub, tagged Africa’s Silicon Savannah includes; cutting edge technologies in Education, Life sciences, Telecoms, Business Processing Outsourcing, and Information Technology enabled services.
Eko Atlantic, Nigeria: Founded in 2003, the city is built on 2400 acres of land reclaimed from the Atlantic Ocean. It was recognized as one of the most inspired and ambitious civil engineering projects in Africa by Clinton Global Initiative in 2009, with a construction cost of about $6 billion. It has been estimated to create about 250,000 jobs on completion. The city will include independent reliable electricity, advanced fibre-optic telecoms, and state of the art urban design. Some parts of the Eko Atlantic projects like the Eko Pearl Residential Towers has been completed.
Hope City, Ghana: Founded in 2013, HOPE City is a planned technology park that is an acronym for Home, Office, People, and Environment. The project is set to be built at Prampram, Greater Accra Region, Ghana. The city is designed to host Africa’s tallest building and also create over 50,000 jobs for the ICT sector in Ghana. The construction cost $10 billion but plans have been stagnated since 2013 due to economic declines.
Vision City, Rwanda: Founded in 2013, Vision city is the largest housing project in Rwanda’s history. The city’s construction cost is estimated at $1.9 billion. It is estimated to provide housing to over 22,000 people within 8 years. The city focuses on innovation to drive Africa’s digital transformation agenda. The first 500 units were completed in 2017 with 30% initial occupancy.
Waterfall City, South Africa: With a construction cost of about $1.2 billion, Waterfall City is located adjacent to Mall of Africa. It is situated on 2200 hectares of land, with completion date stipulated for 2025. The city is projected to create about 86,000 jobs.
Africa has taken a huge step towards the smart city dream, but it will take years to actualize this. This is considering that some visible factors challenge the Smart City dream. Factors like the availability of energy (constant power supply), infrastructural development, and digital inclusion affect the project.
Energy is a huge problem in Africa. According to reports, about 633 million people in Africa lack access to electricity, and about 792 million people make use of outdated cooking facilities.
Also, a city cannot be called smart unless the people in it are smart as well. This means that digital inclusion and internet penetration has not been fully covered in Africa. A report by Internet World Stats states that Africa as a whole has only 35.9% internet penetration with a population of 1.2 billion people. This is because smartphones, mobile data, and broadband internet are overly expensive in Africa.
Considering that smart city actualization is highly achievable in a working system, it is safe to say that Africa’s Smart City Initiative will take a long time before fully actualized. Although smart cities are beneficial in terms of improving individuals’ ways of living, enhancing citizen and government engagement, safer communities, improved transportation, etc., smart city developments cannot come before basic infrastructure investment.
More on TechGist Africa:
- Sophos boosted Intercept X to aid Businesses Fight Cyber Attacks
- Facebook Launches Maps to Provide Health Organizations with Information
- Nigerian Students Among Top winners of Huawei ICT Competition
- Kenya’s First Electric Car ‘Nopia Ride’ Ready for Takeoff
- Why Africa will suffer if the Trade War between the US and China lingers
Get real time update about this post categories directly on your device, subscribe now.