Abuja — 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.
This is even as ministers from several West African Countries have indicated interest to attend the Smart Cities Nigerian Summit billed for August 8th and 9th in Abuja. The ministers including that of Rwanda, Kenya, and South Africa, will be coming to share their personal experiences after hosting similar events in their respective countries.
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.