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Nigeria Eager to Embark on Smart City Project- Shittu

fabian tarpael, abuja
Mr. Adebayo Shittu, minister of Communications
Mr. Adebayo Shittu, minister of Communications

Although, there is never a time to be fully ready for a smart city project, however it remains critical process in the wheel of city urbanization and renewal, said Adebayo Shittu, Minister of Communications.

According to Shittu, Nigeria is ready and eager to embark on that process. He made the remark during a presentation on the Proposed “Smart Cities Nigeria Summit”, scheduled to hold 8th -9th of August, 2017 at the Transcorp Hilton Hotel, Abuja.

Having said that, Shittu reminded the Local Organising Committee that (LOC) that it is a common knowledge that more than fifty four percent of the world’s population live in urban cities.

He said that continued urbanization will add more people to the urban population and invariably more challenges on government to make our cities more efficient, safer and conducive for our citizens.

“Our world is becoming more globalised, interconnected and intelligent. The systems and technologies that underpin so much of how the world works are smarter. We live in a time of unprecedented advances in every sector of human endeavour. In the ICT industry of developed economies alone, we are seeing the coming of age of a whole new generation of intelligent systems and technologies: more powerful and accessible than ever before.

“Unfortunately, the same cannot be said of our country. We are wrestling with both an infrastructure gap, after years of underinvestment, and an innovation gap from poor innovation performance in the business sector over the years. Improving both is essential to improve our fundamental economic prospects. By linking infrastructure and innovation, we increase the potential to help close both our infrastructure gap and our innovation gap”.

On the Nigerian Smart City Initiative, the Minister said, is not a silver bullet or a magic wand from government designed to make all cities and government operation ‘smart’ with one shot. “Rather, it is a conscious effort by government, working with the private sector and all other stakeholders to forge a public private partnership to develop scalable, replicable, interoperable and measurable solutions that will make our cities and citizens smarter.

“It starts by doing simple things, the smart way. One step at a time. That is why we are willing to work and partner with everybody in the IT space towards this unique and sustainable project.

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. It is an opportunity to demonstrate and scale up Nigeria IT innovations and to show how IT can be linked with physical infrastructure to deliver business and public benefits”.

He said that the two day multi-stakeholders international summit will, among others, take a critical look at the level of preparedness, unique challenges, and emerging solutions necessary for a sustainable smart city initiative for the country.

Additionally, the summit will offer huge business opportunities for providers of smart city technologies to exhibit and pitch their solutions and products to Federal, States and Local Governments top officials, and private real estate developers who are all expected to attend the summit.

“The ‘Smart Cities Summit Nigeria initiative is not intended to be a one-off summit.  More elaborate technical stakeholders’ engagements will continue to take place with different sectors in the ICT ecosystem well after the summit. We will also continue to work with our partners to design and proffer practical steps and 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.

“That is why we have taken care in constituting members of the Local Organizing Committee of the Smart Cities Summit Nigeria to reflect the different sectors of Smart Cities development whilst also leveraging on their areas of core competences.

“We know that going smart would not be easy. In fact, it is a huge challenge, given the lack of critical infrastructure in the country. 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 urbanization and renewal. Nigeria is ready and eager to embark on that process. This does not mean building only new smart cities, it also means making our existing cities and villages more efficient and more effective, using the technology available at our disposal. Again, doing simple things the smart way, one step at a time!

“In order to encourage healthy competition among Cities and States, the Ministry, in collaboration with its Partners, will soon launch ‘The Smart City Challenge’. The idea is to encourage Local Governments, Cities, State Governments, and the built industry to take revolutionary steps to go to the level of digital technology. Details of the competition and the prize money will be worked out with our Partners and made available to the Press”, he said.