After everyday objects (telephones, cars, household appliances), it is the turn of cities to be smart. Smart city or connected city combines innovation, technology and sustainable development for the well-being of its citizens. This is a major challenge, given that the cities of tomorrow are facing successive economic crises and the problems of climate change. Global phenomenon: Africa is also developing its smart cities…
In a context of intense competition between territories, the concept of a smart city, still vague a few years ago, is becoming a reality in most cities. In fact, the city of tomorrow must optimize its operation, reduce costs, provide services adapted to its population (digital, safety, health), and offer a transport system that is both efficient and environmentally friendly.
Africa: vast territory, 54 countries (1.2 billion inhabitants), and an infinite number of cities (450 million inhabitants in urban areas)… It is estimated that 80% of economic activity worldwide is developed in urban areas. Currently, 31% of Africa’s population is concentrated in cities. It should increase to 50% by 2050.
So no exception, the African continent is also seeing its economic and urban landscape change. With the explosion of mobile telephony (250 million subscribers), Africa has a major advantage: a young, connected population (51 million Facebook users) and an entrepreneurial one. Hence the desire of some countries to build neighborhoods dedicated to the digital world, in order to make them hubs of innovation in Africa.
And with less developed infrastructure, the African continent can indeed play this nimble card to build smart cities. This is the case of Nairobi (Kenya) and its Konza technology City, Abidjan (Côte d’Ivoire) and its connected public transport network, or the Cotonou digital district called Benin Smart City.
Benin plans to create the country’s first digital district. A technology center whose construction began in February 2016. The Benin Smart City is located in the Cotonou district. 12 hectares of space, 120 million dollars invested, incubators for start-ups, data centers, banks, shopping centers and conference centers.
To combat unemployment, the government wants to create more than 50,000 jobs, and with the rise of the Internet develop the city. Benin intends to become a major digital hub in West Africa. But is it enough to be stamped Smart City, the city of tomorrow? Because improving the quality of urban services and reducing costs is not enough…
Facing the city’s transformation means addressing the key social issues. It means ensuring access to energy, water, waste treatment, housing, health and transport for all citizens of the city. Interacting with these citizens and creating a better life together is the challenge of tomorrow’s smart cities!
The smart city also means sustainable governance, which is the hope of change for the African continent. In other words, better management of the city.