By Isaac Aregbesola
The Minister of Communications, Mr Adebayo Shittu, says Nigeria is set to hold a smart cities summit in June as part of efforts by the Federal Government to develop ICT sector in the country.
Shittu disclosed this in an interview the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on the sideline of the Transform Africa Summit held in Kigali, Rwanda, an ICT conference focused on development of smart cities.
The minister, who said the plan was to replicate the unparalleled ICT transformation of Rwanda in Nigeria, said the “Smart Cities Nigeria 2017 Summit” was scheduled for June 28 and 29.
NAN reports that a smart city is an urban development vision to integrate in ICT and Internet of Things (IoT) technology in a secure fashion to manage a city’s assets
The initiative aims at leveraging technology solutions to improve efficiency of cities.
Rwanda which is spearheading the initiative has rolled out a number of developments such as WiFi in public areas, including public transport vehicles, as well as cashless payment systems in public transport.
Currently, the initiative is backed by 18 African countries while more nations including Nigeria are expected to join.
While explaining further on the Smart Cities Summit, Shittu said though Nigeria was starting late but steadily.
“I will say that we have some delays within the government operations we ought to have unleashed some of these ideas in the Nigerian scene more than eight months ago.
“In consonance with our desire to pursue all initiative in the ICT transformation including smart cities we have planned a summit.
“The summit is with the theme `Smart Cities Nigeria 2017’ fixed for 28 and 29 of June, this year, is with a view to getting the buy in of stakeholders in the Nigeria projects.
“From that point we will kick off and there would not be any stoppage,” he said.
Shittu said the Smart cities project would provide the opportunity to get a buy in of all stakeholders in the Nigerian project.
According to him, Nigeria needs the buy-in of all stakeholders especially that of the state governments if the ICT transformation project is to work.
“To transform Nigeria using ICT we need the buy-in of all states that must get it right from the onset that ICT is the way to go.
“Of course we would demand the patriotic participation of all states,” he said.
He also said that government was seeking foreign investments into the country’s ICT sectors to fast-track the digital transformation agenda in the country.
The minister said that he had spoken with some foreign investors to that effect.
“I have had the privilege of speaking with a lot of foreign investors persuading them to come to Nigeria because Nigeria offers a lot of advantage in terms of the huge population.
“On the West African sector of the African continent, Nigeria’s population is more than that of the other 14 countries. That means that there is a huge market and any investor who comes will never regret.
“I have spoken with the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation; Strive Masiyuwa, Chairman and founder of Econet Wireless, as well as Inmarsat, among others.
“In fact Inmarsat will be coming to Nigeria for a meeting in first week of June. I have spoken with Korean Telecommunications,” he said.
Shittu said that when he went to Rwanda four months ago he spoke with them and put in application for them to bring in smart towers to Nigeria, adding that the process was still ongoing.
“I have renewed our bid for them to come and invest in solar based tower stations and I am confident that once they come it a leap jump towards our having enough infrastructure for the steady progress of ICT,” he said.