Africa Must Develop Smart Cities in Order to Achieve Middle Income Status, Industry Professionals Say

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Africa’s policymakers, governments, and stakeholders must develop smart cities in order for the continent to achieve middle-income status, industry professionals have said.

A smart city is an urban area that uses different types of electronic data collection sensors to supply information which is used to manage assets and resources efficiently.

Socio-economic experts made the declaration on the third and final day of the 2018 Next Einstein Forum (NEF) Global Gathering in Kigali, Rwanda earlier this week.

The NEF is a platform that connects science, society and policy in Africa and the rest of the world – with the goal to leverage science for human development globally.

Announcing their ‘Manifesto for Smart Cities’, they agreed that more investment is needed in order to help Africa speed up its economic development.

“We must see cities as living systems,” said Professor Eliane Ubalijoro of McGill University at the panel discussion on how urban planning, technology, and scientific research could be combined to create smart and sustainable cities.

According to a World Bank analysis, no country has ever attained middle-income status without urban population growth.  Africa’s urban population is currently estimated at over half a billion, matching growth rates seen in Asia. Urban growth, however, is not always painless for policymakers and the general public.

Jean-Philbert Nsengimana, special advisor to the Executive Director at SMART Africa, said the goal was to build cities where “citizens, leaders, and policymakers use data to make cities safe, efficient, livable and sustainable.”

Professor Hamidou Tembine, a NEF fellow, is currently using game theory – the study of mathematical models of conflict and cooperation between intelligent rational decision-makers – to further the pursuit of smarter cities.

As the event came to a close, it was decided that the 2020 edition of the Next Einstein Forum will be held in Nairobi, Kenya.

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