Nigerian Govt Plans Technology Hub in Major Cities

THE Nigerian Government plans to establish innovation hubs across the country in partnership with several major technology companies as part of its smart cities dream.
Acting President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo made this known at the maiden Smart City Summit Nigeria held in the nation’s capital Abuja promising that the technology hubs will be fully resourced with infrastructure and capacity building tools.
According to Osinbajo, each hub will be designed to produce relevant innovative technology solutions to a wide range of business, commercial and government problems adding that the Government intends to create a reservoir of human capacity in technology that can be exported internationally.
Who at the Summit to declare it open said: “I know there will be some scepticism about whether we are indeed ready as a nation to start the Nigerian Smart City Initiative considering the lack of foundational basic infrastructure occasioned by years of neglect by previous administrations. That is a challenge that this government is addressing front and central through various interventions in the power and ICT sector.”
He disclosed that the Federal Government has big plans for the Nigerian ICT ecosystem stressing that there is unrealized ability in other assets the nation possesses besides oil, which are capable of growth and development that can generate surplus, one of such is ICT.
He noted that ICT can lead grand expansion of the economy that is needed to provide opportunities and benefits to many Nigerians adding, “The key to change and our future prosperity lie in leveraging ICT in its entire ramification.”
He stated that the maiden’s theme: “Leveraging on Technology Solutions to improve Efficiency of Cities” is one that is enthralling saying, that “the world, as we know, is experiencing a shift from the traditional ways of doing things to a more ICT-driven approach where government and city administrators are forced to use technology to shape policy, make informed decisions and deliver quality public services.”
The Acting President said that the present administration is focused on transforming the country into a knowledge based economy as part of the objective of the Ministry of Communications’ ICT Roadmap and component of the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP 2017-2020) of the Federal Government.
But he said that the journey towards smart cities development is a collective effort saying, “It is a thought-out, purpose driven, well-articulated concerted effort; driven by implementable and measurable road maps, with the buy-ins of all sectors of government and especially the state governments.”
While calling for a have a paradigm shift that information technology needs are more than just setting up smartphones and fixing laptops, Osinbajo who also gave the keynote address noted that “our cities and towns must think outside the box about making things work better where energy, transportation, water, and other key services are managed efficiently to support smooth operation of critical infrastructure while providing for a clean, economic and safe environment for our citizens to live and work.”
He advised that “the smart city project needs to be designed wisely, considering the local population as the key point. Also, it has to be careful as to not widen the already present gulf between the rural and the urban class.”
He said that Nigeria is determined as a nation to progress “taking our entire citizen along, irrespective of class differences, and catering to everyone’s need equally”, admitting that “As much as the initiative of smart cities is incredible and rational, its policy implementation on Nigeria at the given socioeconomic condition might be a bit difficult.”
He also said the government plans to encourage innovative technologies to spearhead Smart domestic production, Smart Agriculture, Smart e-government & Health delivery, Smart Mobility, Smart Energy & Environment, Smart policing, and indeed Smart cities stressing that the Federal Government plans to come into the technology space and help transform the sector by providing the necessary infrastructure and enabling environment.
In his welcome address, the Minister of Communications, Barrister. Adebayo Shittu said that smart cities are not built by one organisation or a sector of government but by a collective of all stakeholders adding that the global practice usually is to constitute a consortium made up of critical stakeholders who would come together in a PPP model to help drive and implement the project.
He said cities just don’t become ‘smart’ but that it takes a strategic and integrated planning approach and a comprehensive and high-quality IT infrastructure.
The concept of Smart City on the other hand varies from city to city and country to country, depending on the level of development, willingness to change, reform, resources and aspirations of the city residents.
“Our Cities need to develop an interconnected, integrated approach, one that brings together areas traditionally viewed as separate: energy and mobility, government and health, education and environment, and so on”, he explained.
Isaiah Erhiawarien, West Africa

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