‘How Lagos can become smart city with technology’
• Ambode sees culture, politics as limitation
With the drive to make Lagos a ‘Smart’ city now more intense than ever, the state handlers have been urged to push the vision with all enthusiasm and needed policies.
According to experts at the International Conference tagged: ‘Towards a Smart City’, as part of the Lagos at 50 celebrations, the Governor Akinwunmi Ambode led regime, which is championing the transformation has been urged to see Information and Communications Technology (ICT) as an integral component of the vision.
At the Panel session with a sub-topic: ICT-Making Lagos the Technology Frontier of Africa, moderated by the Founder, MTech, Sheri Williams. The panellists included, the Chief Executive Officer, SystemSpec Limited, John Obaro; Managing Director, Accenture, Niyi Yusuf; Founders of EchoVC Partners and Paga, Eghosa Omoigui and Tayo Oviosu respectively, and canvassed an inclusive development of the state including the hinterlands.
Yusuf described Smart city as a country that has embedded technology into the city design and management. This involves using technology to drive value management and use at different layers of infrastructure development. “Lagos is on track to be a smart city,” he added.
To Omoigui, a smart city is self-monitoring, self-reporting and allows different infrastructure blocks to talk to each other automatically, saying in Nigeria, Lagos remains the ideal state to drive this innovation.
To Oviosu, making a state ‘smart’ means all services are driven electronically, using same data, adding that if indeed, Lagos wants to be ‘smart’, it shouldn’t wait for Nigeria, as a smart city should carve out smart health, education and agriculture, among others.
From Obaro’s perspective, what brought the state and even Nigeria to where it is now, is not what will take it to where it planned to be in another 50 years.
He noted that while the population is growing from its current 22 million, the land mass is not expanding, “as such there is a need to develop infrastructure that will outlive the people, while we constantly maintain it.”
The SystemSpec boss, while canvassing for the involvement of Robotic technology in the development of the state, noting that the main accounting package running Nigeria is from Estonia. As such, it has become necessary to develop Lagosians that can make money for the state outside the state. “We must develop a software economy,” he stated.
On how to get it right, the Accenture boss said the initiative must be designed to focus on the users, “citizens centred than administrator centred,” and it must also be Public Private Partnership (PPP) driven with the citizens at heart.
Supporting Yusuf on the PPP-led model to drive funding, the EchoVC boss said there must be a framework for it, saying the people gets smart if the city is smart.
To Obaro, Lagos may not have the problem of getting funding for the project because the people are yearning for a change, and stressed the need for government to also respect agreements.
Obaro and Oviosu emphasised the need to run Lagos smartcity with an efficient identity management system, where it becomes seamless to pay for government services.
They called for urgent hamonisation of the various disparate data bases in the country for better management of the nation.
Reacting to some of the issues raised, the State Governor, Ambode, said “smartness had to be microscopic from the grassroots,” adding that there are cultural and political issues to be dealt with, which if not adequately handled can mar the entire process.
“As we turn 50, while still forging ahead as a leading entity in Africa it’s time to shift gears. In the emerging knowledge era, ICT has taken centre stage and as the city of the future, Lagos must take advantage and indeed leverage on the tools of ICT in moving towards a Smart City,” Ambode said.
The Governor pointed out that there was an urgent need to support the citizens, no matter the tribe. “One needs to be methodical to take Lagos out of Nigeria,” added.
According to him, there are impediments that prevent one from performing; stressing that there must be concerted efforts by everyone to make Lagos like Dubai.