Actus Écosystème

Africa in the age of smart cities

Faced with immense challenges, African governments are putting the "smart city" at the heart of their strategy. To reconcile urbanization, the digital revolution and sustainability.

Cities generate about 80% of the world's gross domestic product (GDP), according to the World Bank. That is to say how important they are to the economies. The smart city is the answer to the urgency of sustainable development goals.

Under-dimentioned infrastructure

Africa's urban population is growing by more than 20%. Coupled with a busy economic activity. And the rise of the middle class will give a boost to consumption. The most obvious scenario is an explosion in the number of vehicles in circulation. In a paradoxical context of inefficient and undersized road infrastructure. As a result, mobility has become more difficult and car pollution will increase. Even if Africa remains low in CO2. Real estate projects are expected to increase. Thanks to the boom in rural exodus and the growing interest of Africans in better housing conditions. As a result, an exponential increase in energy consumption is to be expected. These warning signs therefore make smart cites a preferred way to avoid the crisis.

The World Bank believes that the growth of cities will be one of the beating hearts of the Continent's development. Starting with land market reforms and regulations. Then by making anticipated and coordinated investments in infrastructure. Governments can take control of urbanization and build more connected and productive African cities. Cities that open their doors to the world.

This openness to the world would be a catalyst for foreign direct investment (FDI).  Smarter cities are proving that they are able to attract more FDI. The influx of investments in a Smart City widens the financial flexibility. Especially for municipalities benefiting from state-of-the-art projects. In such an environment, business would take on another dimension.

McKinsey says there will be 100 cities with a population of more than 1 million in Africa by 2025. For them to be smart and for business and citizens to flourish in the long term, countries will face several challenges. The experts unanimously point to electrification first. Africa remains one of the least connected regions in the world, with an electrification rate of 43% in 2016. In other words, 57% of the population lives without regular access to electricity. But smart city inevitably rhymes with maximum access to this energy.

Electrification is the major challenge of a connected city. Experience in northern economies shows that the faster a country has Internet networks, the more GDP increases. So there is a relationship between connecting to the Web and the economy in general. This is the Achilles' heel of African economies. In many countries, Internet connection is still very expensive and of poor quality. States must therefore make efforts to improve electricity supply. It is to meet these needs that Smart Grids are increasingly recommended.

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