The National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), whose policy and programmes shape the nation’s tech sector, has hinted that Smart City is not a priority for the federal government of Nigeria at the moment as other economic issues are hitting hard.
Dr. Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami, Director General (DG) of NITDA, said this in his office when Mr. Richard Edet, Managing Director of Nokia Nigeria, came seeking the partnership of the NITDA with Nokia in areas of capacity building, establishment of innovation hubs and deployment of Nigeria’s Smart City projects across the country.
“Smart city is very critical to our collective development as a nation but it should not be seen as our immediate priority. Our immediate priority is to see the advancement of capacity building, digital literacy and creation of hubs across the country where IT start-ups could be incubated,” the NITDA DG said.
However, NITDA’s stance on support for creation of hubs in Nigeria has come under radar in recent times over alleged failure to meet its funding obligations to Information Technology Developers Entrepreneurship Accelerator (iDEA), an incubator jointly created by the IT agency in partnership with the private sector.
But, Pantami believes that the projects are failing because of the failure to consider the peculiar problems of Nigeria in rolling out IT solutions.
One of such projects he cited to have fallen short on this count was “the case of whopping sum of $470m the nation invested on the Close Circuit Television, (CCTV) project which has now become moribund”.
“As a people we need to think globally and act locally,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Federal Ministry of Communications, cites Smart Cities among projects like e-Government, Girls in ICT, Open Data Initiative are being implemented by the government technology arm and the supervisory Ministry of NITDA.
Smart cities use a mix of technology innovation to create futuristic cities that makes it easier for residents to live, work and play.
Nigeria has in recent years embraced the idea of smart city which has become a growing agenda, while some State Government like Lagos, which is promoting its Smart City Initiative with Government of Dubai, have gone ahead to unfold implementation plans.
Lagos State has also announced plans to train one million Lagos residents by 2019 to advance its Smart City ambition and position the State as the technology frontier in Africa “in line with the Lagos state Smart City initiative in partnership with Dubai Smart City.
Smart City Resorts Plc which is promoting the Smart City sited in Lekki Lagos says on its website that the Innovation Hub from conception “has the close support and partnership of major public sector, corporate and private ICT-industry stakeholders”.
Promoters of the Lagos-based Smart City says that “Sector regulator and enabler, the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) is collaborating with private sector players and teams to develop the technology park in furtherance of a shared vision to grow the contribution of Information and Communication Technology to national development”.
When completed the ambitious Smart City’s Innovation Hub “will provide a conducive cocoon in terms of physical and ICT infrastructure, energy, regulatory and fiscal policies for the optimum and most profitable operation and development of technology products and/or service companies. It will bring together in physical proximity world-class ICT industry companies desirous of benefiting from the regional market and the #1 African market and its biggest economy, Nigeria.”