Ebube George Ebisike looks at how the advent of a Smart City for the Nigerian State of Anambra will act as a regional pathway to growth.
One of the high points of Governor Charles Chukwuma Soludo’s manifesto for southwest Nigeria’s Anamdra State is the establishment of a liveable environment in line with 21st century standards.
This is being seen as his first move towards the idea of a Smart Region by focusing on the infrastructure and housing needs of citizens of the state, all through pursuing a smart city program to entrench the promise of providing a liveable homeland for the people of the state which will snowball the entire South East of the country into a much-needed and long-awaited modernisation programme.
Soludo needed to hit the ground running on his first day in office in March 2022 and started with a visit to Okpoko community, a little-known but sprawling slum close to the city of Onitsha, and home to a massive population of residents. Okpoko lacks any of the basic infrastructure that makes any location liveable. The first steps were to demolish the majority of its houses, award new road contracts and clear the drainage in the area speaks of a quest to build on the past achievements of his predecessors. If newly elected State President Peter Obi’s aim is to ensure that Anambra State achieves better healthcare ratings and oil producing status, then Soludo’s intentions are to significantly increase its Smart City Liveability status.
If newly elected State President Peter Obi’s aim is to ensure that Anambra State achieves better healthcare ratings and oil producing status, then Governor Soludo’s intentions are to significantly increase its Smart City Liveability status
Connecting the people to the city
In line with Soludo’s drive to keep his promise to bring the concept of the Smart City to Anambra, complete with modern housing infrastructures that boast world class amenities and entertainment sites that are all connected to give the people a greater sense of well-being, the state government has signed a public private partnership agreement (PPP) with seven real estate companies to develop residential estates around the state capital territory.
Soludo’s promise is to bring the concept of the Smart City to Anambra, complete with modern housing infrastructures that boast world class amenities and entertainment sites that are all connected to give the people a greater sense of well-being
The new Managing Director of Anambra State Investment Promotion and Protection Agency (ANSIPPA), Mr Mark Okoye, who took office last year, represented the state government during the signing of the memorandum of understanding (MOoU) and shared that Anambra State Capital Awka is very densely populated and the state government is working assiduously to decongest it, hence the need to engage the developers to build new housing.
After all, a truly smart city uses information and communication technology (ICT) to improve operational efficiency, share information with the public and provide a better quality of government service and citizen welfare.
It is imperative to state that the main goal of a smart city is to optimise city functions and promote economic growth while also improving the quality of life for citizens by using smart technologies and data analysis. The value lies in how this technology is used rather than simply how much technology is available and this should not be lost on the Anambra government.
A city’s smartness is therefore determined using a set of characteristics such as:
- An infrastructure based around technology,
- Environmental initiatives,
- Effective and highly functional public transportation (this is where the collabration between UK-based entrepreneur Eric Masaba's Tranist Exchange (Texxi ) patent/model and Innoson Motor's (IVM) in the city of Nnewi can make the difference for Anambra transport system as a model for the SE region and Nigeria on a holistic level),
- Confident and progressive city plans,
- People able to live and work within the city, using its resources.
In keeping with the Soludo vision it is noteworthy to add that the success of a smart city relies on the relationship between the public and private sectors as much of the work to create and maintain a data-driven environment falls outside the local government remit.
It is imperative that the main goal of a smart city is to optimise city functions and promote economic growth while also improving the quality of life for citizens by using smart technologies and data analysis
Resourcefulness meet smartness
As an example smart surveillance cameras may need input and technology from several companies and residents to keep the current security challenges faced in the state and region under optimised check due to organised crime gangs disturbing the peace. Furthermore, besides the technology used by a smart city, there is also the need for data analysts to be trained from the capable youth population to assess the information provided by the smart city systems so that any problems can be addressed and improvements found from time to time.
All of these seemingly separate elements are key to the Soludo Smart City legacy for the State of Anambra.
Ebube George Ebisike is director of communications for ECOWAS Countries and the State of the African Diaspora (SOAD).