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Africa's ‘smart’ cities urged to bring technology to the masses

Konza Technology City is a 'smart' city development planned outside Nairobi, Kenya.

With modern new cities rising across Africa, there’s enthusiam about the introduction of “smart” technology such as sensors and using high-powered data analytics to solve urban problems. But Cynthia Gordon writes for Mail & Guardian Africa that the smartest move city planners can make is to offer technology that’s more affordable to more people. Examples include Internet access for schools, digital literacy and inexpensive smartphones.

“The key planning principle must be a bottom-up approach,” advises Gordon, CEO of the Africa division of Millicom, a mobile telecommunications provider. Basic infrastructure and universal standards could be more beneficial that cutting-edge technology that doesn’t serve the masses, she writes. Birth certificates issued via mobile phones would ensure that children born in informal settlements have access to public services and are guaranteed full rights as citizens.

Telemedicine would extend medical care to even the poorest urban communities. Mobile money, already popular in many parts of Africa, makes it easier for people without bank accounts or credit to make purchases with cellphones.

Read more here about some of the “smart” cities under development across the continent.

Mail & Guardian Africa

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