Data-Driven Cities Advancing Smart Cities in Africa

In Nairobi, the Kenyan capital, a gathering of technology experts convened on Monday with a shared goal: to advance the development of smart cities across Africa.

The “Data-Driven Cities” conference drew over 100 stakeholders, including senior government officials, representatives from the private sector, and academia from various African nations. Together, they aimed to ignite innovation and foster collaboration in creating smart cities that efficiently serve their populations.

Edward Kisiang’ani, the principal secretary in the Ministry of Information, Communications, and the Digital Economy, highlighted Kenya’s leadership role in this arena. He pointed to the ongoing development of Konza Technopolis, located approximately 70 km south of Nairobi. This technology city, he emphasized, embodies core principles of sustainability, innovation, and inclusivity. With the first phase of Konza City nearing completion, Kisiang’ani underscored Kenya’s commitment to forging smarter, more resilient urban environments.

Emphasizing the pivotal role of data, Kisiang’ani stressed that leveraging data-driven insights can empower decision-makers to tailor cities to the needs of their inhabitants, thereby fostering more responsive urban centres.

Delyno du Toit, the data science manager at Cape Town in South Africa, echoed the sentiment, highlighting the transformative potential of smart cities. He emphasized that these cities enhance residents’ quality of life, stimulate economic growth, and promote environmental sustainability. By harnessing technologies like data analytics and the Internet of Things (IoT), du Toit argued, urban infrastructure and services can be optimized to address pressing challenges.

Furthermore, du Toit emphasized smart cities’ critical role in combatting climate change by reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Judith Quarshie, head of library and documentation at Ghana’s Ministry of Local Government, Decentralization, and Rural Development, emphasized the importance of digital tools in bolstering African cities’ resilience to climate change. She highlighted the necessity of investing in renewable energy, artificial intelligence, robotics, and smart public transport systems to ensure cities are equipped to withstand environmental challenges.

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