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Experts reinforce the need for smart cities to foster economic growth

Experts reinforce the need for smart cities to foster economic growth

Experts say that with half of Nigeria’s population currently living in cities, a development framework must be in place to ensure that future growth is sustainable.

During the MasterCard CEO Conversations dinner held recently, Bismarck Rewane, renowned economist led discussions on the theme; ‘Developing Nigeria’s Smart Cities through Technology Transformation’ with Ajay Banga, MasterCard’s president and CEO, who visited Nigeria. Rewane reinforced the point that 60 per cent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is generated by those living in cities.

Financial Institutions, Telco CEOs and other business leaders gathered for an evening to discuss the country’s continued growth and the increasingly important role of the private sector. The question of the evening was, how do smart cities deliver economic growth and resilience?

READ ALSO: Mastercard Underpins its Commitment to Driving Economic Empowerment for All in Africa

Smart cities leverage technology with open standards and platforms to drive scale to deliver economic growth and efficiency. In Nigeria, technology is helping citizens connect to services that help them lead better and easier lives. Mobile is playing an important role, and more Nigerian’s have access to the internet via their smartphones, with current estimates stating that over 97 million users have access.

As cities such as Lagos develop, this technology and other innovations will help serve the growing demands from consumers and businesses. By 2035 close to 30 million people are likely to live in Lagos, making it the largest megacity on the continent.

The discussion focused on the importance of partnerships as part of the cities strategy. It was highlighted that the need for cross-functional support is required with further focus on gathering knowledge from global organisations to share best practices and knowledge. The importance of transparency and ease of doing business was also tabled, and with Nigeria recently securing a stronger rating, the country is on the right track to reinforcing its position as an economic powerhouse.

With Africa witnessing the fastest urbanisation in the world, the opportunity for economic growth is clear. Urbanisation has a strong correlation with the rate of real GDP growth because productivity in cities is more than double that in rural communities. As citizens become more productive and have more disposable income, consumer spending can be expected to increase. Consumer and business spending presents a $4 trillion opportunity for businesses to tap in too.

READ ALSO: ‘Mastercard has reached over 1.5m merchants in Africa, ME with QR payments technology’

Mastercard has developed many solutions to support this growth, some allowing micro and small businesses to gain access to a payment solution that will not only be making accepting payments easier but also streamline the buying experience for their customers. One of that product-Masterpass QR, launched in 2016, is helping to digitise an important sector in Nigeria and across Africa and ensures that commerce is more secure and convenient.

Access to solutions that are relevant and fit a need is just one part of the development framework, first a deep understanding of the challenges and opportunities is required. This is where big data comes in says Mastercard.

Good use of this data could have a transformative impact on 21st-century cities akin to the impact of electrification on 20th-century cities. Managing a global payment network allows Mastercard to identify and predict patterns of commercial activity that can help inform more sustainable urban planning. Cities today must have plans for their future, and become cities for everyone better able to provide citizens with prosperity and a future.

Jumoke Akiyode- Lawanson