11 May 2017

Africa: Rwanda Unveils Smart Cities Blueprint As Transform Africa Summit Gets Underway

Photo: Nadege Imbabazi/The New Times
Passengers wait for buses in downtown Kigali.

As part of the on-going Transform Africa Summit, Rwanda yesterday unveiled the Smart Cities Blueprint, a framework that aims to serve as a catalyst to fast-track ICT-driven initiatives in cities across Africa.

The Blueprint provides an overview of Smart and Sustainable Cities programmes meant to integrate available technologies at every level of urban management. It emphasises the role that technology plays in enhancing the delivery of services both in the public and private sectors.

"Urbanisation is a powerful driver of economic development and social mobility. It is also a catalyst for technological progress, as we see in cities globally. Africa is no exception. We are already home to the fastest growing cities. To get the cities we want, we must always keep the people we serve at the centre of our efforts," President Kagame wrote in the Blueprint's foreword.

The Smart Cities Blueprint comes as a response to Rwanda's engagement made in 2003 when it offered to provide a tool and serve a model to help African cities advance digital transformation.

It provides a model for African cities to integrate shared ICT infrastructure and services into the management and provision of critical public utilities and services to achieve smart energy, smart transport and mobility, smart water and sanitation, smart government services, smart education, smart healthcare, smart public health and smart public safety.

Launching the Blueprint, Rwanda's Minister of Youth and ICT, Jean Philbert Nsengimana pointed out that Smart Cities are interconnected, instrumented and intelligent which makes them smarter. He further added that Smart Cities recycle their waste, reuse materials and reduce the volume of waste thus becoming sustainable.

Overall, the Blueprint looks at pushing for speedy implementation of ICT initiatives across cities on the continent.

Major highlights in the Smart Cities Blueprint include:

The transformation of urbanisation for economic development, social integration and as a catalyst for technological progress is self-evident in cities around the world.

It lays down the principles for 'Smart and Sustainable Cities' implementation and how to manage and control these drivers.

It explains the benefits of Smart Cities including making them: Competitive Cities, Efficient Cities, Safe Cities, Resilient Cities, Shared and Co-created cities and Liveable Cities.

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