Monday, 17 January 2022

In Property

Smart Cities: Deloitte says Africa is Ready

Insightfully, Deloitte says that Africa is ready for Smart Cities, as they detailed it in an insightful report titled "Africa is ready to leapfrog the competition Through Smart Cities Technology". All Cities are unique from their geographic layout to their architecture. They do however have common objectives such as the safety and security of their citizenry and the provision of services in the form of utilities and transportation networks.

They also face common challenges while attempting to remain competitive in securing sufficient resources to maintain and grow the city. African cities have particular challenges stemming from years of hostilities and neglect of infrastructure. Rapid urban migration of the population is placing demands on existing infrastructure and transportation networks which are beyond their original design.

Over the past decade large multinational Information Technology (IT) companies have begun predicting Africa to be “the next big market” due to the emergence of many rapidly growing economies. As such it is a fair statement to make that many African cities are at the cross road of velocious development in one shape or another, providing the unique opportunity for cities to innovate and lead a new generation of thinking whilst demonstrating tangible benefits to their citizens and to the world.

Limited legacy drawbacks

African cities’ advantage for technological adoption far surpasses their Eastern and Western counterparts as many of the cities don’t suffer from crippling costs associated with the maintenance of legacy infrastructure and systems. Cities have the opportunity to start with the latest technology available thereby. immediately thrusting them as competitors into the global market place. 

Countries like Ethiopia, Libya and South Sudan don’t have substantial telecommunication cable installations and thus wouldn’t need to consider the upgrade path from analogue to ADSL, they can immediately look to move forward with a pure implementation of the latest 5G/ LTE network. 

Additionally, they wouldn’t have to worry about the cost and resource provisioning surrounding patching and upgrading of sections of existing but outdated network components. Naturally, this network facility will immediately impact local businesses that hadn’t invested in costly IT infrastructures and datacentres that would otherwise now be running on potentially outdated servers. 

It is through the provision of advanced networking facilities that businesses can almost immediately port their services through provisioned cloud infrastructure, reaching a global audience with very little overhead to consider, and thereby start positioning themselves as powerful competitors in geographies never previously considered.

Youthful Consumer Population

One could argue that the biggest driver launching the African continent into the twenty first century is the rise of the African middle class. Africans are also aspirational, with African consumers wanting the same things as other consumers across the world: choice of food and housing; entertainment and interconnectivity; and access to the latest fashion trends. 

According to the African Development Bank Chief Economist Mthuli Ncube “it’s the middle class that drive demand in an economy,” as it is the middle class who have the greatest disposable income.2 This, coupled with the fact that Africa has a disproportionately young population with 62% of the population under 25 years of age, makes for an interesting consideration as to the quantum of tomorrow’s consumer market. With the European Union predicting that, “by 2025 more than 20% of Europeans will be 65 or over, with a particular rapid increase in numbers of over- 80s”. 

It is hardly a surprise that mature businesses are casting more than an interested eye over the continent as a youthful population provides a secured consumer base for many decades to come.

Urbanisation

As African cities continue to rapidly grow, the trend of urbanisation increases. Predictions of a global super-urbanisation move with 70% of the world’s population being urbanised by 2050 includes the perspective that in the next 30 years, roughly 50% of Africa’s population will be living in cities.

With a young population anxious to better their living conditions, consolidated into the condensed geographical space of a city, appropriately enabled and empowered, can result in a powerhouse of innovation. An example of where this has been realised is the Nairobi Innovation Hub in Kenya. 

An environment was built and filled with some of the brightest minds in the country with the sole focus of encouraging innovative behaviour. The concept was so successful that it was replicated in other cities.

Source: Deloitte

Cabanga Media Group is a media and business services company with interests in Botswana, Nigeria, Kenya, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe.