What is the Definition of a ‘Smart City’ in Africa?

11 thought leaders share their definitions of what the term ‘Smart City’ consists of in an African context.

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This episode is brought to you in partnership with Digital Council Africa

Musa Khumalo is the Group Head for Shared Services at the City of Tshwane Metropolitan Municipality.

  • It is a city that is able to interact better with its customers/ citizens.
  • Musa explains the difference between a traditional city and a smart city.
  • Smart City will interface better with citizens at any time of the day via different channels citizens want to access.
  • Cities will compete in the future on technology base and ability to attract investment which will depend on how it accommodates technological infrastructure such as 5G.
  • The ability to build a city that will survive in the future.

Craig Kesson is Executive Director for Corporate Services at the City of Cape Town. 

  • He prefers to talk about Smarter Cities as Smart Cities mean different things in different contexts.
  • Making sure the systems they use to manage the city effectively link in with other technology platforms that are emerging.
  • Understand what it means to live in a time of technological change, Craig explains more.
  • Citizen and resident at the heart of it.
  • Unlock the economic and social potential of individuals who live in a particular densified place and identify the tools and enablers needed to do it.

Vino Govender is Executive for Strategy, Mergers & Acquisitions and Innovation at Dark Fibre Africa.

  • It is not just about technology.
  • When investments in not only technology but in social and human capital are done efficiently and in a synergistic manner.
  • It creates an environment that is supported by policy, governance, and collaboration.
  • This enables a city to deliver on sustainable development goals, in a sustainable manner.

Bronwyn Williams is a Partner at Flux Trends. She's a Futurist, Economist, and Business Trends Analyst. 

  • She prefers to talk about intelligent cities where you start using technology to enhance the human experience rather than just to make governance more efficient.
  • The last thing we want is to automate bad governance, inefficiencies, or unfairness which seems to be the direction of the so-called ‘smart cities’ of today.
  • Bronwyn explains a real-world example from the United Kingdom.

Steve Apps is a Smart City and Industry 4.0 technology expert. He’s past CTO of Huawei Southern Africa for government services. 

  • There are many definitions, most don’t hit the nail on the head because it’s mainly to fit a specific agenda. For Steve, it is taking data/ information, processing it to get a wider better view of how the city is running.
  • Then using the data to make better strategic and immediate decisions to move forward and make better use of your assets.
  • Typical Smart Cities are seen as London, Singapore, New York where they all have strong infrastructure, reliable electricity, water, good housing, good education, and more.
  • In Africa without having stable, reliable electricity you cannot have a Smart Cities – Steve explains why and what to do.

Dr. Geci Karuri-Sebina is a multi-disciplinary scholar-practitioner currently occupied in several capacities working at the intersection between people, place and technological change, focusing on the global south.

  • First, focus on the contextualized vision of the city that you are in and find answers to the imagination, governance, and the systems and processes you want to put in place.
  • Tech is an enabler.
  • Tech on its own can’t save us.
  • Geci uses Barcelona as an example of a great smart city.

Dr. Marco Macagnano is the Smart Cities Leader at Deloitte Consulting

  • No single definition. Must be approached as a design process.
  • Take a human-centric approach, Marco explains how.
  • It is not about the technology you provide.
  • It's about the process, strategic frameworks, and creating key interventions.
  • Start with the key infrastructure we have and create the best use cases. How can we leverage data the best we can and allow for future scalability?
  • Marco explains the top-down design approach for smarter cities.
  • The importance of socio-economic development and culture in African cities.
  • Create an engagement platform that allows for the introduction of data from various sources to disseminate and understand information.
  • Need to take a long-term view if African c ties want to succeed as smarter cities.
  • The technology stack.

Bob van Bebber is a Director at Boogertman + Partners Architects and overall winner of the 2019 SA Professional Services Awards.

  • Bob explains how a Smart City is inclusive, connected, and accessible with good public transport and good & safe green spaces.
  • Let’s go back to community centers?
  • How do we bring services to the communities without them having to travel forever?

Dr. Oualid Ali is the President of the Future Cities Council.

  • Smart Cities are not simply about technology as it is just a tool, the citizen should be in the center of it all.
  • Implementation cannot happen in siloes.

Jonathan Wilson is the Urban Data Project Manager at the South African Cities Network (SACN).

  • His definition of a smart city is one that is using technology, data, and innovation to create efficiencies within the city that achieves its developmental needs.

Dmitry Pozhidaev is Global Advisor at UN Capital Development Fund, he’s based in Uganda.

  • A city that makes full use of data and technologies for sustainable and inclusive urban development.
  • Smart use of financial instruments and approaches.

About the Digital Council Africa

Digital technologies offer widespread disruption and will, with it, unlock new opportunities for rapid economic growth, innovation, job creation, and access to services. The goal of the organisation is to stimulate growth in the digital sector by sharing knowledge on this subject with policymakers, operators, and influencers.

The Digital Council's mission is to support public and private sector to work together to deliver on the expectations of a gigabit society. Through developing the digital transformation stack - we hope to educate and guide all involved in the framework and infrastructure for the next generation of Internet applications and platforms and ultimately to remove the boundaries of technological inclusion.
Visit: https://www.digitalcouncil.africa/

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