African cities need to be more live­able by 2040 – re­port

The Star Early Edition - - NEWS - Joseph Booy­sen

AS AFRICA’S pop­u­la­tion is set to dou­ble to about 1 bil­lion peo­ple by 2040 African cities need to be more af­ford­able, con­nected and live­able in or­der to be “smart cities”.

Lead­ing ex­perts have shared in­sights on what it would take to de­sign and build smart and sus­tain­able cities fit for Africa’s fu­ture.

Ac­cord­ing to a World Bank re­port re­leased ear­lier this year, Africa’s cities were grow­ing in pop­u­la­tion, and have a crit­i­cal role to play in eco­nomic growth.

The re­port said that Africa’s ur­ban pop­u­la­tion stood at 472 mil­lion cur­rently, with 187 mil­lion peo­ple ex­pected to be added to ur­ban ar­eas by 2025. The re­port said the num­ber would dou­ble over the next 25 years.

Wil­liam John­ston, re­gional di­rec­tor for struc­tures at WSP Africa, a pro­fes­sional ser­vices firm, said al­though im­prov­ing con­di­tions would deal with rapid pop­u­lous mi­gra­tion to city cen­tres, gov­ern­ments and city plan­ners had to be on the alert.

“To suc­ceed in their plan­ning and de­vel­op­ment ef­forts, there needs to be a split strat­egy and fo­cus,” John­ston said. “The first fo­cus will nat­u­rally be on se­cur­ing much needed in­fra­struc­ture and ser­vices.

“Con­cur­rent to this, how­ever, sig­nif­i­cant fo­cus also needs to be placed on fu­ture planned up­grades and/or new builds that will be smart, sus­tain­able and thereby fu­ture proof in the long-term.”

Ri­aan Gra­ham, sales di­rec­tor for Ruckus sub-Sa­ha­ran Africa, a broad­band ser­vices provider, said the growth of con­nected de­vices and their po­ten­tial im­pact would re­sult in in­creased aware­ness of ben­e­fits smart cities could of­fer.

Tech­nol­ogy

“A truly smart city is one that is fo­cused on in­te­grat­ing tech­nol­ogy to in­ter­con­nect dif­fer­ent gov­ern­men­tal de­part­ments to cre­ate a sin­gle in­fra­struc­ture that pro­vides bet­ter ser­vice de­liv­ery, im­proved mu­nic­i­pal ser­vices, in­fra­struc­ture en­hance­ments and util­is­ing real-time mon­i­tor­ing sys­tems for the bet­ter­ment of all cit­i­zens, to name just a few things, Gra­ham said.

“For me, this in­ter­con­nect­ed­ness should ex­ist seam­lessly across at least the top six com­po­nents to de­sign­ing a smart city, in­clud­ing, smart en­ergy, smart trans­port, smart data, smart in­fra­struc­ture, smart mo­bil­ity and smart IoT.”

Ac­cord­ing to SquidNet, a firm con­sist­ing of a team of ex­perts who pro­vide cov­er­age on IoT, smart cities had be­come a crit­i­cal ne­ces­sity be­cause of in­creas­ing ur­ban­i­sa­tion.

Ac­cord­ing to ICT re­search com­pany, In­ter­na­tional Data Cor­po­ra­tion, South Africa is the leader when it comes to smart city tech­nol­ogy in Africa.

PHOTO: ITUMELENG ENGLISH

Jo­han­nes­burg sky­line. South Africa is the leader when it comes to smart city tech­nol­ogy in Africa.

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