Nigerians Await New Development on SmartCity Plans - Sundiata Tech


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Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Nigerians Await New Development on SmartCity Plans

A few years ago, SmartCity was the buzz word on the mouth of Nigerians, as the country looked to information communication technology (ICT) as a favourable option for economic diversification.
However, the big dreams on the potentials of technology to transform Nigeria’s economy and the talks on the technology focused innovation hub project, SmartCity, which was conceived in 2011 for the development of the country, starting with Lagos and Abuja which was set to create at least 50,000 direct jobs in those cities in its first five years seems to have fizzled out of the minds of the Nigerian government.
A smart city is an urban development vision to integrate multiple information and communication technology (ICT) solutions in a secure fashion to manage the city’s assets such as schools, libraries, local department information systems, power plants, hospitals, transportation systems, law enforcement and other community services.
The technology hub which was framed to be like America’s Silicon Valley, home to many of the world’s largest technology corporations and tech start-up companies. It is beyond doubt that Silicon Valley is the world’s leading hub for high-tech innovation and development, and has been pivotal to the global information technology revolution.
When asked what was going on with the smart Nigeria project and why we continue to hear less about the high prospect project, Umar Danbatta, Executive Vice Chairman of the Nigerian Communication Commission (NCC) said Nigeria currently does not have the necessary technology required to achieve smart cities.
“The smart city is the vision for the communications ministry, the translation of this vision into reality will require the deployment of necessary technology maybe even on a pilot scheme so that Nigerians will be able to see the benefit of doing things in a smart way,” he said.
He however added that some aspects of the country’s system are starting to be technology driven; “we have now started to hear about the smart electricity grid, smart electricity meters, smart antennas and so on,” he said.
“The benefits of going the smart way outweigh its disadvantages so I subscribe for Nigeria to go the smart way so that we can see and appreciate efficiencies in services delivered,” he added.
The last that has been heard about the progress of the Smart Nigeria proposed hub was in January 2016 when Demola Aladekomo, Chairman, SmartCity Resorts Plc, said “the A-grade technology development infrastructure will prime the local technology industry for global competitiveness, galvanizing it from crass consumerism towards innovation and world class manufacturing standards.
“Upon completion, it has the potential to create about 50,000 direct employments in its first five years,” he said.
Although a few months ago, Adebayo Shittu, the Minister of Communications held a retreat with the stake holders where he identified major steps to be taken to get Nigeria to becoming a smart digital country, experts say that visible signs are yet to be seen with government taking the necessary steps for a smart country.
Dare Ogunlade, General Manager, English West Africa Cisco said that the reason why there is hinderance in the deployment of smart cities around the country is because of centralization in Lagos State alone which is the only State that seems to be developing as far as ICT is concerned.
“It is virtually only Lagos State that has interacted with the minister for communications Technology as regards deploying smart cities. How do you encourage the other 35 states?
“There is a particular state where the government did not draw up the budget. The government came in and the budget cycle had been done but they realised that they could not go far without ICT and were running very quickly with this Smart City initiative. For them, they have examined their budget to see how they can actually reallocate money to invest in ICT”.
“Different states were at different levels of preparedness, which also comes down to who is driving the home affairs of the state and what their uttermost priority is,” he said.
Lanre Ajayi, former president of the Association of Telecoms Companies of Nigeria (ATCON) which was one of the promoters of the SmartCity initiative told BusinessDay in a telephone interview that the SmartCity project is a fantastic idea as ICT is a growth driver in any society and so it is essential for the development of Nigeria as a whole.
However, some stakeholders still wonder why deployment of the project has still not been actualised even when government knows the steps necessary for the possibility of a digital smart Nigeria.


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