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. The growing African economies are still struggling to create adequate opportunities for new jobs. Many unemployed youths have very little enablement to create their own jobs in the face of existing infrastructural challenges, coupled with education systems that do not focus too well on innovation and entrepreneurship.
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.
When compared to mature cities like London and New York, African cities can currently be considered to be behind the ‘competitive’ curve. However this is not a pre-destined outcome as African cities can, through the successful adoption of the ideology and technology underpinning the Smart Cities concept, become globally competitive. It is through the adoption of advanced technologies and lessons learned from mature cities that the anticipated growth need not be one step at a time, but rather exponentially in functional, economic and social aspects. This paper reviews the Smart City concept and focuses on the contemporary African drivers enabling her cities to leap frog the competition into 2025 and beyond.
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