Smart cities in Africa : the continent reaches out to the digital world
According to a 2017 UN report, there will be a sharp demographical increase in Africa throughout the century, reaching 4.4 billion people by 2100. This will have a massive impact on the needs of the population : there will be an increased need for mobility, electricity and urban planning. To address those challenges, the continent has begun to make the transition to smart cities.
A smart city is a new concept or urban management that is constantly gaining momentum since the early 2010s, in part thanks to the digital development in Africa. Those new smart cities tend to conciliate the social, cultural and environmental pillars through a systemic approach that combines participatory governance and thoughtful management of natural resources in order to meet the needs of institutions, businesses and citizens.
Smart Cities have indeed an ecological management purpose. Consequently, the challenges to be met for a city to be smart are of several kinds. First, to have a smart economy. Second, to deploy intelligent mobility, in other words, public transport. And third to develop an intelligent environment, i.e. water and energy consumption and waste management. In addition, we need an intelligent, eco-responsible way of life and administration where its services can be carried out on a digital platform. This is the new challenge that Africa has set itself.
Given that Africa’s population will be booming for the decades to come, some States are already thinking about how to meet their needs for the present and the future. This population growth will have a direct impact on the needs for water, mobility and land use planning. In order to face these problems – which are already present in almost all the continent – some States are betting on the implementation of technology in cities.
(In conclusion,) Africa is opening to digital technology and launching smart cities to provide solutions to its potential problems and to implement more effective solutions. Some countries already took measures and developed solutions : Tunisia has developed “green mosques” which use solar panels in order to light LEDs and fix the lighting problem ; Benin launched its French-speaking digital campus, paving the way for further developments in this field.