Smart City is ‘not priority for Nigeria’, Govt says

Smart City is ‘not priority for Nigeria’, Govt says

Smart City is ‘not priority for Nigeria’, Govt says

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Smart city is not a priority for the Federal Government of Nigeria, the IT industry watchdog has said.

Smart cities use a mix of technology innovation to create futuristic cities that makes it easier for residents to live, work and play.

National Information Technology Development Agency, the IT regulator whose policy and programmes shape and define the nation’s tech sector direction, hints that smart cities programme may not feature on its priority area.

“Smart city is very critical to our collective development as a nation but it should not be seen as our immediate priority. Our immediate priority is to see the advancement of capacity building, digital literacy and creation of hubs across of the country where IT start-ups could be incubated,” Dr Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami, Director General at NITDA says in a statement on the tech agency’s website.

Pantami said this in his office when Mr. Richard Edet, Managing Director of Nokia Nigeria, came seeking the partnership of NITDA with Nokia in areas of capacity building, establishment of innovation hubs and deployment of Nigeria’s Smart City projects across the country.

Dr Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami, Director General, National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA)
Dr Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami, Director General, National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA)

Pantami said this in his office when Mr. Richard Edet, Managing Director of Nokia Nigeria, came seeking the partnership of NITDA with Nokia in areas of capacity building, establishment of innovation hubs and deployment of Nigeria’s Smart City projects across the country.

But NITDA’s stance on support for creation of hubs in Nigeria has come under radar in recent times over alleged failure to meet its funding obligations to Information Technology Developers Entrepreneurship Accelerator (iDEA), an incubator jointly created by the IT agency in partnership with the private sector.

However, Pantami believes that projects fail because of failure to consider the peculiar problems of Nigeria in rolling out IT solutions.

Lagos State photo release shows the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding for the Lagos Smart City that was on Monday signed at the Emirate Towers in Dubai by Mr. Adeniji Kazeem, Lagos State Attorney General and Commissioner of Justice (sitting left) and Mr. Jabber Bin Hafez, the Chief Executive Officer of Smart City Dubai LLC. Standing behind them is His Excellency, Ahmad Bin Byat, Chairman of Dubai Holdings, who is also the Deputy Prime Minister and Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode, Lagos State Governor.
Lagos State photo release shows the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding for the Lagos Smart City that was on Monday signed at the Emirate Towers in Dubai by Mr. Adeniji Kazeem, Lagos State Attorney General and Commissioner of Justice (sitting left) and Mr. Jabber Bin Hafez, the Chief Executive Officer of Smart City Dubai LLC. Standing behind them is His Excellency, Ahmad Bin Byat, Chairman of Dubai Holdings, who is also the Deputy Prime Minister and Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode, Lagos State Governor.

One of such projects he cited to have fallen short on this count was “the case of whopping sum of $470m the nation invested on the Close Circuit Television, (CCTV) project which has now become moribund as a typical examples adding that as “a people we need to think globally and act locally.”

However, the Federal Ministry of Communications, cites Smart Cities among projects like e-Government, Girls in ICT, Open Data Initiative and being implemented by the government technology arm and the supervisory Ministry of NITDA.

Nigeria has in recent years embraced the idea of smart city which has become a growing agenda, while some State Government like Lagos, which is promoting its Smart City Initiative with Government of Dubai, have gone ahead to unfold implementation plans.

Lagos State has also announced plans to train one million Lagos residents by 2019 to advance its Smart City ambition and position the State as the technology frontier in Africa “in line with the Lagos Smart City initiative in partnership with Dubai Smart City.”

Smart City Resorts Plc which is promoting the Smart City sited in Lekki Lagos says on its website the Innovation Hub from conception “has the close support and partnership of major public sector, corporate and private ICT-industry stakeholders.”

Promoters of the Lagos-based Smart City says that “Sector regulator and enabler, the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) is collaborating with private sector players and teams to develop the technology park in furtherance of a shared vision to grow the contribution of Information and Communication Technology to national development.”

When completed the ambitious Smart City’s Innovation Hub “will provide a conducive cocoon in terms of physical and ICT infrastructure, energy, regulatory and fiscal policies for the optimum and most profitable operation and development of technology products and/or service companies. It will bring together in physical proximity world-class ICT industry companies desirous of benefiting from the regional market and the #1 African market and its biggest economy, Nigeria.”

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