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Lagos and the smart city project

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By using modern technology to revolutionize several facets of their economy, many countries are presently enjoying profound global interests and investments. In Africa, Rwanda and Ethiopia are prominent examples of countries that are substantially investing in digital artifacts to achieve a correspondent value in their natural and human endowments.

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It is thus not surprising that in Lagos State, the Babajide Sanwo-Olu led government is keen on making Lagos the fortress of digital enterprise, an urban hub of innovation and commerce and a fertile market for imperial investment. With a well-designed roadmap, the administration has been working hard to improve the efficiency of services and eliminate redundancies in major sectors as a sure way to make Lagos livable and more productive.

The administration’s plan to fully transform the state into a smart city and make her economy 21st century compliant is fully on course. The on-going laying of 3,000 km fibre metro network cables and broadband infrastructure across the itate is part of the comprehensive Smart City programme of the government aimed at driving Lagos into a 24-hour economy.

The broadband infrastructure rollout is to enable rapidity in commercial activities and provide instant access to healthcare, government services and social connectivity.The optics fibre would help the government to also improve security through inter-connected technological tools.

The high-speed Internet connectivity that will come from the metro-network cables would be used at homes, schools, healthcare facilities and government’s offices for improved service delivery. The infrastructure would also boost e-commerce activities and empower innovation start-ups.

The unified metro fibre project is a multi-year Smart City programme in which the government is installing 6,000 kilometre fibre optic cables across the State in two phases. In the first phase, which started last year, 3,000km of fibre optics cables are being rolled out within the metropolis.

The plan is to drop high-speed Internet connectivity into all communities within the state and extend it to public schools, institutions of higher learning, health centres, and all government offices and parastatals. The digital infrastructure will also be used to enhance security and safety, as security cameras would be installed in public places as well as the roads to achieve efficient traffic management.

As part of the efforts to further achieve the Smart City agenda of the Sanwo-Olu administration, the Lagos State Residents Registration Agency (LASSRA) had started to implement the rollout of multipurpose functional smart Identity cards developed for easy identity validation, payment of utility bills and collection of internally generated revenue, using unique e-wallet services.

LASSRA has also improved technical excellence with the introduction of 4.4.2 fingerprint capturing process and development of an effective online platform to aid enrolment process. A real time online registration has been developed and is currently being utilised to reduce the time and effort spent in registration for residency cards.

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The government had also upgraded campus network infrastructure to encourage e-learning and virtual conferences. The upgrade was implemented with Wi-Fi 6 devices – the latest network.

Similarly, the Lagos State Science Research and Innovation Council (LASRIC), established in 2019, has funded over 50 research, innovation and STEM Projects in the last one year. The State is working in collaboration with the University of Lagos for the development of ambuvent ventilators with high commercial value for the management of infectious pandemic.

The N250 million seed capital earmarked by Mr. Governor to boost technological innovation and initiatives is already yielding good results with the development of local digital solution platforms by tech start-ups. The development has enhanced access for MSMEs to stress-free digital payment platforms, thereby improving the digitisation of the Lagos economy.

The innovation seed capital was awarded to young applicants, who required the funds to bring their innovation into reality. The first set of beneficiaries selected to benefit from the seed fund were in the fields of innovation, research and STEM. The innovators and tech start-ups were empowered with N100 million grants, which is part of the N250 million set aside for Science and Technology related ideas and initiatives.

The government is also funding other key intervention projects from the N250 million seed capital, including patent pending research initiatives, agricultural value chain technology, healthcare, construction and manufacturing, among others.

Also, ‘Start-up Lagos’ – the largest tech ecosystem in the State – had offered retail and institutional investors opportunities to tap into the vast tech driven initiatives and push their ideas in Africa’s diverse tech market.

The open source initiative is a technical programme that will allow for greater local development of smart city application. This is to promote the institutionalisation of technical skills across the software development community in Lagos.

The government also sponsored secondary students to participate in 774 Young Nigerian Scientist Presidential Award (774-YONSPA). This is to boost the interest of students in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education and to encourage young people to be inventors of projects and programmes that can resolve challenges in the State, such as infrastructure, environment, waste management and wealth creation.

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Similarly, the Art of Technology (AOT) initiated by the current administration is an ecosystem that serves as a bridge between the private sector technology system and the public sector. The second edition of the event focused on deploying smart data to engender smatter Lagos.

The government is also supporting digital projects and programmes in the public sector, including ICT Training for content audio-visual creation, restructuring of government’s digital assets to align with global technology and Smart City goals, implementation of State-wide ICT competencies, and planning of Lagos Science, Technology and Innovation expo.

The long term goal of the government is to foster the gains achieved by the Art of Technology 1.0 to enhance and empower the residents and investors in Lagos toward bridging the gap between governance and innovation.

Consequently, the Government and private sector could now work together to proffer technological driven solutions to some of the age-long challenges in the state.

For instance, digitalizing the healthcare system would significantly improve the quality of life through the provision of high- quality services that are cheaper for patients to access. Similarly, investing in an Intelligent Transportation System (ITS) for coordinated and smarter use of transport networks would inadvertently alleviate the concomitant hitches in the agricultural sector.

Conclusively, perhaps the largest potential benefit of technology will come from enhancing residents’ quality of life. These opportunities cover a broad range of issues, including housing and security, educational services, environmental conditions, banking and financing and community relationships.

Ogunrinde is of the Features Unit Ministry of Information & Strategy, Alausa, Ikeja.


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