#TechPlus2016: Federal CIO pledges U.S. support for smart city plan in Nigeria
Tony Scott, U.S. Federal Chief Information Officer (CIO) and Administrator of the Office of e-Government and Information Technology at the Office of Management and Budget, weekend at #TechPlus2016 in Lagos pledged U.S. government backing for smart city plans by Nigeria.
Scott says that the U.S. government will offer to assist Nigeria in building smart cities that are envisioned to deliver a good mix of technology, economic development and governance to the people of Nigeria.
[quote font=”georgia” font_size=”22″ font_style=”italic” align=”left” arrow=”yes”]The U.S. CIO told the #TechPlus2016 gathering in Lagos that, “I learned many things here around the challenges that Nigeria faces or Lagos faces, and when I go home I will talk to people about what I observed here. I am hopeful that some of those challenges are within the people that have good ideas and as I am here, I hope to be able to share ideas of things that I learned over the years. So when you have that kind of exchange, I think you can make progress.”[/quote]The U.S. Federal CIO made the pledge while fielding questions after speaking on a panel discussion on “Smart & Connected City” #TechPlus2016 in Lagos.
#TechPlus2016 has become Nigeria’s biggest technology gathering where decision maker, innovators and thought leaders gathered to exchange ideas and share expert insights on key technology issues shaping and defining the ways we live, work and play.
According to Scott, the best way to pass on this help to Nigeria is through the exchange of ideas with the U.S. “I think one of the best ways America can help Nigeria is just the exchange of learning, exchange of ideas.”
The U.S. CIO told the #TechPlus2016 gathering in Lagos that, “I learned many things here around the challenges that Nigeria faces or Lagos faces, and when I go home I will talk to people about what I observed here. I am hopeful that some of those challenges are within the people that have good ideas and as I am here, I hope to be able to share ideas of things that I learned over the years. So when you have that kind of exchange, I think you can make progress.”
Nigeria stands to gain a lot from the concept of smart city as it will open up lots of possibilities that are only limited by imagination, according to Scott.
“There is a world of possibilities that the smart cities can bring forward. It borders on improving life in the city, making it easier to get around, controlling energy, allowing you to recreate in a more awesome way and I think the possibilities are only limited by our imaginations in terms of what can happen in a positive way”, according to him.
The U.S. CIO identifies that security is always a big challenge for cities across the world, and emphasises the importance of incorporating security in the design of any smart city.
“What we are seeing now is the recognition that security has to be a part of the design. So a lot of innovation taking place right now in the security space to make it a part of the inherent design and also make it easy to use as well. Good security is easy to use and sometimes that is more work, but in the end that is what works”, Scott adds.
On the issue of financing a smart city, he adds that “there is a lot of ways financing can happen. We have seen good examples all over the world of some combination of government financing and private sector financing and I think every city and every part of the world has to work out what is good and the right combination for them.”
Responding to a question on educating people who may not be IT-inclined about the concept of smart city, the US CIO views that as an education everyone needs regardless of their level of IT knowledge as he reckons that things move so quickly today in the IT sector.
“There was a time that I thought I knew most of what was happening in the technology world and now I realise I only know a small fraction.
“I think the best way to learn is to participate, get engaged. The more you engage the easier it becomes and the greater the benefit that comes from it and understanding technology is just one of those kinds of efforts.”
However, the U.S. government official says the Nigerian government and corporate bodies who are planning towards the smart city dream should always engage in conversations that discuss the challenges and opportunities, as that will enable them come up with ideas that will make them progress forward.
“Start having a conversation around that says, here are the challenges, here are the opportunities, here are the ideas that we have to go and address those and that is the way to make progress,” he says to stakeholders in the smart city project.
According to him, “one of the things I heard coming here was power issues. People talked to me regularly about some of the challenges that you have with power and I know that there is technology that can help with that.”
[quote font=”georgia” font_size=”22″ font_style=”italic” align=”left” arrow=”yes”]“We believe that by year 2020 that city would have been developed. We should have like 80 to 90 percent occupancy by then. We believe we would be generating that type of revenue; they are 50 billion dollars city alone, which will be adding to what we have in Lagos. We believe we can contribute about 9.5 percent to Lagos GDP is already,” Aladekomo says of the proposed Lagos Smart City hub.[/quote]Speaking further, Scott admonished young Nigerians not to see technology as only being able to develop software, because it is also a tool to improve other areas of life.
“You don’t necessarily have to be a software developer. One of the great things about technology is that it is pretty inclusive and so what is really needed is people who are smart about technology but also have other skills as well and you can sell technology, you can support it, you can develop it, you can install it, you can market it.
“There are whole bunch of different careers in the center of technology and surrounding and you can work as solutions in an area you have interest, passion and expertise,” he suggests.
Meanwhile, Lagos is already building what is poised to be the first smart city in West Africa at the Lekki area of the state as disclosed by Ademola Aladekomo, Managing Director of Chams Group, in his keynote address at #TechPlus2016.
The Chams boss says the Lagos Smart City Innovation Hub will solve most prevalent challenges most Nigerian cities face today.
“We want to build an environment that will have a lot of incubators all over the place, where the issues of power, security, education and others are resolved,” he says.
“We will have two different university communities, we are creating a marketplace, we are bringing in a lot of banks for financial activities within that city and that is what a smart city is supposed to be,” Aladekomo adds.
According to him, the city would have been ready by the year 2020 and will generate about 9.5% to Lagos State GDP.
“We believe that by year 2020 that city would have been developed. We should have like 80 to 90 percent occupancy by then. We believe we would be generating that type of revenue; they are 50 billion dollars city alone, which will be adding to what we have in Lagos. We believe we can contribute about 9.5 percent to Lagos GDP is already,” Aladekomo says of the proposed Lagos Smart City hub.
Facilities to expect at the planned Smart City hub in Lagos include 24 hour power supply, fiber optic delivered broadband Internet access, a petrol station, a five star hotel, police station and fire service, amphitheater, a world class conference centre, a technology startup incubator, recreational facilities, a mini stadium, a world class mall, among others, Aladekomo says.