by MTHULISI SIBANDA
JOHANNESBURG, (CAJ News) – AFRICAN countries have an opportunity to leapfrog now-redundant technologies used in developed nations andultimately realise their potential to create truly smart cities.
This is according to an industry expert following a report released by the United Nations (UN) indicating that, by 2050, 70 percent of the world’s population will be living in smart cities.
By 2030, the UN stated, at least six of the world’s megacities will be located in Africa. A megacity is a metropolitan area with a total population in excess of 10 million people.
Caspar Herzberg, Schneider Electric Middle East and Africa (MEA) President, said African cities were in a good position to realise the smart potential due to the challenges they currently face.
A lack of infrastructure in many African cities has made them ideal candidates, where new technology can be introduced and implemented from scratch, rather than reworking pre-existing and out-dated systems.
“It is easy to assume that countries in Europe, America and Asia are more likely to become smart cities at a quicker rate than in Africa, but this is not necessarily true,” Herzbeg said.
He said it was encouraging that the awareness that had been generated for African decision makers and city managers around the concept of smart cities has increased significantly.
Herzberg said it was important for companies to help African cities to overcome the different organisational and “technical silos” they experienced.
“We must be able to bring industry, government and the end user together to make sure that people understand this technology, and see the benefits,” he said.
According to Herzberg, digital leapfrogging and the overall sentiment towards digitisation of business is most prominent in Egypt, South Africa and the East African region.
Schneider Electric’s digital strategy is premised on connectivity across
infrastructure and devices, promising to make life in African cities better, especially regarding water and energy management.
Its EcoStruxure solutions for Smart Cities is anticipated to save African governments and businesses money on water and energy, where these systems minimise water and energy wastage, allowing for better service delivery and perhaps, better connectivity for the public.
Schneider Electric is also investing significantly in digital talent in the continent.
Herzberg said the region had ample opportunities for our automation business and software business, where the focus is on energy automation.
“We’re local but global at the same time. In this way, we put in a lot of time to develop local, digital talent, who then go on to become very attractive to other parts of the world.”