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Making Lagos a Smart City: The Impact and Imperatives By Stanley Olisa

Date:

Lagos State and the ICT Imperative

We live in a ‘techy’ world, and Nigeria is not left out in this global shift towards digital. Lagos is the busiest city in Nigeria and one of the strongest commercial epicentres in Africa. According to the Bureau of Public Statistics, Lagos State accounts for 65 percent of Nigeria’s manufacturing activity and approximately 36% of total GDP.

The incoming government of Sanwo-Olu has the goal of making Lagos a Smart City, with the digitisation of transportation, education, security and health to make for a true 21st century economy. Critical to the attainment of this goal is broadband connectivity which will impact all sectors of the economy to engender innovation, encourage foreign investment, and create more jobs in Lagos. Lagos has the potential to make this dream a reality.

Broadband Connectivity: Necessity for a Smart Lagos

The transition of Lagos from Mega to a Smart City cannot be achieved without an unfettered access to critical digital infrastructure, especially broadband connectivity which propels growth. An increase in fixed and mobile broadband penetration has a positive effect on the economy. One must commend government efforts in trying to make Lagos a digital city. But government needs to become more strategic in its approach because investment in ICT infrastructure is a priority to expand access to broadband services, and consequently help fast-track the digitisation of the city.

Given the speed at which digital technology is evolving, it is projected that the future of Lagos is dependent on broadband and its accompanying fibre infrastructure. When broadband technology becomes pervasive, it will support Lagos and put it on the path to sustainable development. Broadband creates opportunities to meet economic and development goals. It will help expedite the development of virtually all sectors of Lagos.

Lagos already has a tech ecosystem with an estimated 400 start-ups. It is actually one of the fastest growing ecosystems in Africa, and this has attracted moderate investment from individuals and organisations who have seen the potential in its tech market. A classic example is the visit of Facebook founder, Mark Zuckerberg, to the tech community in Lagos. Also, startups in Lagos have been gaining more global attention after Andela received 24 million dollars in funding from the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative (CZI) 3 years ago. Sanwo-Olu should leverage this edge in making broadband technology prevalent. Without the requisite ICT infrastructure, Nigeria will not be able to meet her National Broadband Plan.

Impact of Broadband on Education and Security

Creating affordable broadband access and its supporting infrastructure will transform Lagos’ education sector, connecting institutions to high-speed Internet, and enhancing the digital skills of students. In fact, digital literacy is not feasible if there is no affordable broadband technology. Connectivity will beef up the quality of education- improve the calibre of graduates and build the digital capabilities of the teachers. The acquired digital skills will prepare the young population for future opportunities and make them fit properly into an ICT-driven world.

Broadband connectivity will also facilitate remote learning. In fact, the impact of broadband on education is enormous. The Sanwo-Olu government should provide the necessary ICT infrastructure to enable unbridled access to broadband in schools, libraries and public parks. It will lift the face of education in Lagos.

To achieve a smart Lagos, the government of Lagos State should seriously consider leveraging digital infrastructure for crime detection and public safety. The deployment of surveillance cameras in public places across Lagos will foster transparency and reduce crime. You need broadband to support the infrastructure that will enable adequate security, an essential feature of a smart city.

Impact of Broadband on E-Government and Traffic Management

Broadband connectivity promotes digital governance and fosters democracy on the Internet. With ample connectivity, citizens can be more informed about government activities and even engage more with government agents. Broadband will also increase access to public information, improve transparency, reduce public graft, make the government more accountable and increase its efficiency. It will modernise governance.

One of the hallmarks of Lagos is regular traffic. Tinubu’s administration established the Lagos State Traffic Management Agency, LASTMA, which has made some impact in the state. With ubiquitous broadband, this agency can become more efficient in managing traffic. Broadband enables easy monitoring of traffic from a remote location, optimises communication among traffic officers and ultimately reduces the rate of road mishaps. Broadband will digitise traffic management.

Partnership with MainOne

Leading broadband infrastructure company, MainOne has been running a media campaign highlighting their credentials to make Lagos a true digital powerhouse. The Sanwo-Olu government can partner with them to realise its dream of transforming Lagos into a Smart City’.

Why Babajide Sanwo-Olu Should Partner with MainOne

MainOne has invested over ₦120 billion in infrastructure across West Africa and beyond, funded by leading African banks.
MainOne deployed almost 1,000kms of fiber in Edo and Ogun States to expand Broadband Access in partnership with Facebook.
In 2010, MainOne deployed the first private, Open Access Submarine Cable System between Nigeria and Portugal.
MainOne has been licensed as the Lagos Fiber Broadband InfraCo by the NCC since 2016.

Conclusion

Sanwo-Olu once said that under his government, “technology will improve education, government efficiency, give entrepreneurs and SMEs the opportunity to thrive, create more jobs and enhance public-private sector partnerships.” Pervasive broadband is germane to the achievement of this ambition.

Stanley Olisa is a media and communications strategist at Caritas Communications. Olisastanley513@gmail.com

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