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Smart cities: Stakeholders advocate public-private sectors synergy

Stories by Olabisi Olaleye

Nigeria is striving to achieve the smartcity vision, in order to be in the same league with countries like the UAE and France.

Some states such as Lagos, Port Harcourt and Abuja are working in that direction, to become mega cities . 

 During a Smart Cities Nigeria conference organised recently in Abuja  by the Federal Ministry of Communications, the alignment and synergy of actualising smart cities came to the front burner.

On his part, Executive Vice Chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission, Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, called for synergy between the public and private sectors with a view to attaining the goal of smart cities in Nigeria.

Danbatta, who spoke while chairing a session to discuss “Building Innovative Public-Private Partnerships for Achieving Nigerian Smart Cities Vision”, said, to ensure the deployment of required infrastructure towards meeting the National Broadband Plan objectives as well as building the foundation for smart cities in Nigeria, there is the need for partnerships and collaborations between the public and private sectors.

According to him, the partnerships should aim at aligning government’s objectives of driving pervasive broadband infrastructure for socio-economic development in the country and the objective of the private sector for business opportunities.

“This alignment of objectives requires innovative funding and financing mechanism as well as incentives that will provide the required impetus for the private sector to lead in driving the attainment of smart cities in Nigeria,” he said.

He, however, observed that the government’s role of providing clear policy and regulatory frameworks needs to be translated to actions in terms of articulating a clear road map, implementation plan and coordination mechanism towards the attainment of stakeholders’ objectives.

Also, Director-General National Information Technology Development Agency(NITDA), Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami, explained that It’s critical for successful implementation of smart cities in the country thereby improving living conditions of the people.

“Our primary job is to discuss smart technologies and infrastructure technologies, platforms and Internet of Things (IoT), focusing on communication applications required for achieving smart cities. In that regard, we would x-ray smart city fundamental infrastructure and networks requirement; safety and security issues; application of urban technologies like Geographic Information Systems, Internet of Things, cloud computing and big data analytics etc.; how intelligent transport solutions can help solve transportation on challenges in our cities especially traffic monitoring and efficient logistics and how these systems can be integrated seamlessly to create social and economic value.

“Working towards realising smart cities is the job of the government,, in collaboration with stakeholders. However, as a developing country, with our peculiarity as a country, there is a need for us to rethink about smart cities implementation. We should be innovative about it and ensure implementation are sustainable. The focus should be on short and long terms plans for building green field cities as well as rebuilding  existing cities to be smart, future ready and sustainable. We need to be conscious of climate change.

“There is need to build a sustainable business model, our own architecture for smart initiatives and ensure the right infrastructure are available. Infrastructure such as broadband; agents; smart urban spaces; web5G; electricity, smart devices and based applications, mobile technologies and eservices as well as open government data issues are crucial to achieving sustainable smart cities”

He disclosed that the Nigeria Smart City Initiative (NSCI) was created and established in February 2016 by NITDA to reflect the agency’s then vision of championing egovernance in Nigeria.

The NITDA boss further stated that the agency was convinced that it’s commitment to the development of Smart Cities in Nigeria, will encourage the rapid advances in Internet of Things technologies, platforms, tools and other related technologies, inclusive of mobile and cloud technologies, capable of developing the technological landscape of our nation and making lives livable for the people

Speaking further, Danbatta said, “Internet of Things is the next big thing in the evolution of the ICT space”, stressing that IOT is a key aspect of smart cities that Nigeria aims to achieve.

He listed areas in need of special attention as: expansion of required ICT infrastructure in the cities that aim to become smart cities, addressing power supply challenges, high Right of Way (RoW) charges, and multiple taxation and regulation.

Other challenges according to him are: availability of frequency spectrum, level of digital literacy, effective communication of the value and benefits of Smart Cities to key stakeholders, and lastly, developing business models that take Nigeria operating environment into consideration.

Director General National Information Technology Development Agency(NITDA), Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami, explained that It’s critical for successful implementation of smart cities in the country thereby improving living conditions of the people.

“ With the sole aim of providing the enabling environment and capacity for our local governments and private enterprises to improve the quality of city environment and lives of the people.  Public Private Partnership (PPP) driven and Internet of Things (IoT) platforms, which encouraged tools and solutions be designed with scalability in mind with a view to enable replicability and measurability.  “Since I assumed office on the 29th September 2016, NITDA under my leadership has been refocused to properly regulate and develop the IT industry. Some of the infrastructure control. We are, however, working diligently and partnering strategically with relevant stakeholders’ in the country .We are also rolling out a regulatory framework for enabled applications to provide a standardized framework for smart initiatives in government to ensure data generated through smart applications are protected and centrally available for the creation of social and economic value.

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