“For developing countries in Africa like Nigeria, not only our mobile phones should be Smart, our cities ought to be smart too, for me this is the challenge of the government at different levels”
While many cities are becoming ‘smart’ enabling development that makes life easy for her people to move around from one place to another, access government services with ease. The state of infrastructural development in Nigeria is yet to improve over these years. This is something of a great concern to many Nigerians. Will Nigeria ever catch up with these trends?
These poor infrastructures in the country cripples economic development in different ways. New Technologies like Green Tech and Internet of Things (IoT) have come to make life a lot easier and why are Nigerian government not looking at ways in which Technology can make cities run effectively, efficiently and productively. This the focus of Smart cities around the world.
Ever thought of driving home from work in Lagos with no traffic jam, using your navigation devices and your phone sends you real time traffic reports and suggests alternative and best routes for you. And then when you see potholes on the road, or accident your car sensor sends report to your smartphone and then you send an email to the government agency responsible for fixing that. Not only that, you also have the choice of actually using the rail services in place to connect within the city and out of the city. This is what is obtainable in other countries long before now.
Each day in Lagos, one is actually faced with the challenge of how to get from point A to point B within the city and catch up with appointments on time. It is becoming increasingly difficult moving around the city because of the heavy traffic jam that is a major characteristics of the city. This is a major challenge for individuals, businesses and organizations. It has actually reduced efficiency and productivity in different areas you might want to look at it from even life expectancy of people living in Lagos.
Just like the jingles and echoes of celebrating the 100 years of Nigeria is being led by the government and I begin to wonder while traversing the length and breadth of other cities in the country, if Nigerians really have something to look forward to.
I am not surprised to read recently that Nigeria is ranked one of the top countries as a failed state. Having visited some countries, am not sure of any country where people live the way we do. The poor state of infrastructure in Nigeria is something worrisome and leaves you thinking if we actually have had any government in place all these years. Many times I ask myself, how did the country degenerate to this level. Deep rooted corruption brought us where we are right now.
While many countries are advancing in the use of technology to improve the way people live and do business, Nigeria is yet to wake up to this.
Several weeks ago in Dubai, I heard the ruler of Dubai promise his people that Dubai is on her way to becoming a smart city. I was wondering how smart can the city become again with all they already have on ground-great roads and transport networks, great infrastructure, full e-government, great economy just name it.
It shows that countries are continuously upgrading and improving their infrastructure with technology trends and globalization. With all of these, sometimes grouping Africa as a developing or emerging market with the Middle East and places like Dubai isn’t fair, we are yet to wake up to the realities and opportunities technology can bring to a developing nation like ours.
How does a city become Smart? It is unfortunate that Nigeria with her huge material and human resources over these years cannot boast of her cities with modern infrastructure and public utilities. Government services are yet to get online. We are really behind in technology advancement. Just as most countries are making their cities work with Smart technologies that make live easy and secured, only our mobile phones are beginning to get smarter and that is what is being celebrated in terms of technology advancement in Nigeria. There is a lot to be desired.
The truth is no city ever advances in Technology and Innovation without laying the foundation for that. Technology development does not just happen, it needs a well thought-out plan and strategy for implementation. This is the challenge of Nigerian government at all levels.
One of the most obvious benefit of a smart city is safety. A smart city provides safety of lives and property in a unique way that makes people want to live and do business there. The use of cameras, sensors and data captured by machines around the cities in real time are useful for security control and that provide 24 hours real-time surveillance. Just achieving this in major cities of the country will greatly reduce the incidence of crime and insecurity in the country.
I don’t have to say much on the benefits of a smart city, the government already knows what a smart city looks like as they travel all over the world. The truth is with a smart city the burden of governance is reduced and the city becomes efficient and effective. The question still remains- Will Nigeria ever catch up?