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African cities get Smart



Africa is moving towards smart city technology in order to enhance the performance and quality of urban services. But, says RAVIN NAIDU of Alcatel Lucent, building a smart city extends beyond just the technology and incorporates ICT innovation too.

Africa is moving toward Smart City Technology in order to enhance the performance and quality of urban services.  This transformation aims to achieve tangible benefits at municipal, provincial and national levels.  The demand of the inner-city population is influencing the more interconnected approach to city development.  These demands along with rapid metropolitan migration is resulting in a strain on existing transportation and infrastructure networks.  ALE, marketed under the brand Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise, a provider of enterprise communications solutions and services, advises that building a Smart City extends beyond the technology, it is about Information and Communication Technology innovation.

Smart Cities make use of digital technologies to improve the functioning of city services.  The main objective is to enhance the administration of urban flows by enabling real time responses to challenges.  Factors such as technological, economic and environmental changes have influenced the movement to ‘smart’ urban growth.

Amsterdam, a leading Smart City is a successful example of the public private partnership focused on using the city as an urban laboratory for the use of new mobility solutions, open data and improved quality of life for all citizens and visitors.  The collaboration has to date supported more than 40 Smart City projects from the development of home energy storage for integration with a smart grid to Smart parking.

People are the focal point of the Smart City concept, however, the model requires the involvement from all parties.  The success of this ideal not only relies on a commitment from government, it also entails the collaboration of the private sector as well as the engagement from citizens.

The most significant benefit of a Smart City is to drive economic development by delivering a high quality life for all. These sustainable advancements aim to improve the basic service provision of electricity and water, as well as offer citizens the ability to easily move within cities across private and public transport.  Smart Cities also set out to offer superior healthcare and education to all citizens by addressing service delivery challenges. The main emphasis of a Smart City is to offer a safe public environment.

Super cities such as Hong Kong, London and New York are at the forefront of this technology with African cities now following. Although it is difficult for African cities to compare, adopting the ideology and technology supporting the Smart Cities concept, we foresee that in the future Africa will be able to compete on a global level.

African cities will not have to endure the high costs associated with the upkeep of legacy infrastructure and systems which is a major advantage of technological adoption. This enables them to start leapfrogging their more advanced peers. With the rise in foreign investment in Africa, great leaps forward are likely to happen in main African technology centres.

* Ravin Naidu, Alcatel Lucent Enterprises Regional Director for Southern Africa.

Africa News

Africa gets broadband boost



ITU and Nexpedience, a supplier of proprietary point-to-multipoint broadband infrastructure, are partnering to bring broadband access to Africa.

Under the terms of the deal, Nexpedience will provide 180 new Expedience base stations worth USD 1 million, to be deployed in six nations across the continent. The first nation to benefit from the new infrastructure is Burundi, with deployments also planned for Djibouti, Burkina Faso, Mali, Rwanda and Swaziland.

Designed to withstand extreme meteorological conditions and capable of providing up to 32 kilometres of sector coverage, Nexpedience’s base stations have been specifically designed for rural deployment.

ITU’s Wireless Broadband Network in Africa project aims to develop and implement wireless broadband connectivity and applications that will provide free or low-cost digital access for schools, hospitals, and under-served populations in rural and remote areas Africa-wide.

At the signing of the agreement in Geneva, Brahima Sanou, Director of ITU’s Telecommunication Development Bureau (BDT) emphasized the need to make developing countries part of the global broadband revolution: ‚”This partnership represents another important element in ITU’s efforts to bring broadband technology to the world even in the poorest nations. I am confident that this new partnership will accelerate broadband uptake right across the African continent, bringing the power of high-speed connectivity to users everywhere, from big cities to small villages.‚”

Kiriako Vergos, CEO of Nexpedience said: ‚”Giving access to broadband technology to underserved populations in Africa is of great importance to us. There are enormous benefits to be derived from a ‚’broadband-seed’ deployment strategy, and we decided to partner with ITU because we know that the organization has the team in place to get it done.‚”

ITU Secretary-General Dr Hamadoun Tour√© said the new agreement is a ‚”major step forward in getting Africa connected‚”. Dr Tour√© led the establishment of the Broadband Commission for Digital Development in 2010, which has the aim of putting broadband at the heart of the global development agenda.


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Africa News

Nokia backs tech hubs for developing world



Nokia, AppCampus and infoDev are collaborating with mobile innovation hubs across Africa, Asia and Latin America to act as scouts for local talent.

Nokia, AppCampus and infoDev, a global innovation program of the World Bank, have announced a collaboration with mobile innovation hubs across Africa, Asia and Latin America – a move that will empower these hubs to act as scouts and agents for local talent, fast-tracking their access to AppCampus funding.

AppCampus was established in 2012 as a mobile application accelerator program managed by Aalto University in Finland. With an 18 million euro joint investment between Microsoft and Nokia, the aim is to foster mobile application development on Windows Phone and any other Nokia platform.

The announcement earmarks part of that investment fund for twenty six awards per annum for the best mobile innovation ideas to be made via the mobile innovation hub network, starting with infoDev’s mobile application labs in South Africa, Kenya, Armenia and Vietnam, as well as mobile application laboratories in Egypt (TIEC), Nigeria (CC Hub) and Mexico. The value of each award ranges from 20,000 Euro (US$ 26,000) to 70,000 Euro (US$ 90,000) depending on the complexity of the solution or business model behind the idea.

‚”By working jointly with the mobile innovation hubs, we are able to connect more effectively with local developers in emerging markets and provide support in terms of funding, especially for locally relevant innovations,‚” says Pekka Sivonen, Head of AppCampus. ‚”Although the criteria to access the AppCampus funding remains the same, with ideas needing to be original, competitive and scalable, the advantage is faster processing and the mentorship provided by these innovation hubs.‚”

The hubs and mLabs will be responsible for scouting talent and vetting ideas to be submitted to the global pool. infoDev’s mLabs foster regional entrepreneurship, employment and competitiveness by providing open spaces where developers can find training, mentoring, technical expertise and access to financing. In a short time, mLab-supported startups have brought over 120 commercial apps to market The best new entries from this network will compete against each other each quarter for the available awards.

‚”Nokia, working closely with infoDev, has supported the establishment and operation of a number of mLabs across emerging markets in support of local developers,‚” says Jussi Hinkkanen, vice president corporate relations for Nokia Middle East and Africa. ‚”The AppCampus collaboration showcases our commitment to strengthening the growing mLab network around the world and infoDev’s vision of supporting emerging market entrepreneurs in conquering local, regional and global markets‚”.

The official launch of the program took place during the mobile stream at the Global Forum on Innovation & Technology Entrepreneurship in East London, South Africa, organized by infoDev and the South African Department of Science & Technology. A key theme of the Forum is how innovation can lead to high-growth entrepreneurship which creates sustainable jobs. Valerie D’Costa, infoDev’s Program Manager says, ‚”The AppCampus initiative fits with the philosophy of infoDev of supporting innovative entrepreneurs from developing countries. We want to support those who can excel with some level of mentorship, skills training and seed financing. We provide potential job-creators better access to markets, which is what we are all about.‚”

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