Nigerian government plans to develop roadmaps for establishing Smart Cities in the country.
In my personal opinion as a Nigerian citizen, I will make it clear that Nigeria does not need a smart city. Our problem is not lack of smart city. Rather, we have issues in building the core elements that make smart city useful.
A nation of smart city with kids that cannot read will not benefit from the city. Besides, there is no real benefit from smart city that citizens cannot organically achieve by themselves without a top-drown approach. If Nigeria becomes more prosperous, cities and communities will evolve. Visit Cape Town and see that Africa can host a modern global city when the resources are available.
Smart City is a bad idea and if you check in U.S. and most advanced economies, mayors are not running for them. Africa must not fall into that trap. Smart City is nothing but a new type of technology consumerism designed to waste resources of developing nations. If you fund, build, but fail to upgrade, the system will decay. If you fail to pay for the software license, you will have issues.
Government does not need to be part of this. All that government needs to do is to ensure that its building codes and city development plans are up to date.
Our Smart City in this early part of the 21st century is education of our young people and citizens. We need Educated Citizens and not really smarty cities. Only Educated Citizens will produce smart cities.
According to the Guardian, the Federal Ministry of Communication is working with partners to design and proffer practical solutions that will assist the Federal Government in formulating a unified and robust National Policy that will have a corresponding implementable framework towards the Smart Cities Nigeria initiative.
The Minister of Communication, Adebayo Shittu, who disclosed this in Abuja, stressed the need to close the infrastructure and innovation gaps that exist in Nigeria in order to improve the nation’s fundamental economic prospects.
This, according to him, should be done by scaling up Nigeria IT innovations and link it with physical infrastructure to deliver business and public benefits.Shittu noted that the country is wrestling with both infrastructure gap, after years of underinvestment, and innovation gap from poor innovation performance in the business sector over the years, adding that scaling up both is essential to improve the nation’s fundamental economic prospects.
The minister observed that by linking infrastructure and innovation, Nigeria can close these gaps, adding that government is working with the private sector and other stakeholders to forge a public private partnership to develop scalable, replicable, interoperable and measurable solutions that will make our cities and citizens smarter.
According to him, “IT companies will have the chance to team up with cities and infrastructure companies to help advance smart city/smart infrastructure technologies and systems in Nigeria.
“In driving the Nigerian Smart Cities Initiative further and as part of the objectives of the Federal Ministry of Communications in ensuring a digital-based economy for the country, the two day multi-stakeholders international summit will, among others, take a critical look at the level of preparedness, unique challenges.”
He noted that going smart in Nigeria may face a huge challenge, given the lack of critical infrastructure in the country, stressing that non-availability of constant power, for instance, is a major challenge for any smart city initiative for the country.
“Cheap, clean and dependable power supply is the bedrock of any smart city project. So also, is effective broadband penetration and affordable data service. The Nigerian ICT Road Map 2017-2020, the National Strategic Plan 2016-2024, the Broad Band Policy and the new Power Sector Reforms of this administration, are some of the ways Government intends to address these challenges. There is never a time to be fully ready for a smart city project. It is a process in the wheel of city urbanisation and renewal,” he added.
The minister pointed out that in order to encourage healthy competition among cities and states, the Ministry, in collaboration with its partners, will soon launch ‘The Smart City Challenge’, to encourage Local Governments, Cities, State Governments, and the built industry to take revolutionary steps to go to the level of digital technology.
Truth be told, government can work to provide power, water and other basic infrastructure without another diversion called Smart City. Having a new city built from ground up or retrofitting an already existing one will not solve the problems we are having on water, electricity and education.