The continuous rise in technology-driven solutions has pushed forward the drive to create smart cities that support this growing lifestyle, and Africa’s largest economy is on the path to achieving this following talks with Binance, the crypto exchange giant, to jointly develop an area in the country that is fully digital.
According to the federal government, this would give a boost to fintech and digital asset development in the African country, giving rise to an innovative urban transport system, automated water supply, and waste management process, as well as constant electricity supply.
A digital city is a place where conventional networks and services are made more efficient with the use of digital solutions for the good of its residents and organizations. Experts say this points to a more interactive and responsive city administration, safer public spaces, and attending to the needs of an aging population.
Also, a digital city is a data-driven one. Olufemi Ariyo, an ICT professional, noted in an article that a well-articulated data analytics strategy offers city administrators the ability to gain access to and analyse a massive amount of information in real-time while gleaning meaningful, actionable insights.
“The monitoring of desired metrics in real-time drastically improves service-delivery levels. This enhances security, eases expansion, allows a wider range of service possibilities, and tracks citizen interests, concerns, and needs among others,” Ariyo said.
Research shows that digital cities pay attention to the infusion of human intelligence into everyday processes for improved productivity, and Lucky Uwakwe, a Blockchain expert, who made the first public call on the matter in 2019 told BusinessDay that if the digitalisation of the country takes place, it would provide opportunities for the young population.
“This would be a good signal to the government, international investors, and operators in the blockchain space who are looking for markets to participate in.”
Similarly, costs will be cut down and there would be an improvement in services. These include intuitive websites, mobile applications, self-service platforms, and convenient online accounts. With the evolution of remote work, decentralised finance, and other technologies, residents expect no less from their city. “Improving the experience of humans with digital services in communities makes smart cities a more attractive place for tourism while promoting a connected citizen experience,” Ariyo said.
However, Uwakwe expects that the government should not be discussing innovation around free trade zones with international bodies.
According to him, conversations around free trade zones by the government of a country that has not seemed to in any way give listening ears to the regulators, should not leave existing self-regulated local groups including the Blockchain Industry Coordinating Committee of Nigeria, Stakeholders in Blockchain Technology Association of Nigeria, among others out.
“Conversations around emerging technologies should heavily involve the local players as this free trade zone that is being created is not only for foreign players. If local blockchain practitioners and innovators, as well as the Nigerian populace, have not been formally active in the blockchain market, the conversation might not be appealing to these intending foreign partners,” Uwakwe said.
Nigeria has long been focusing on digital assets and blockchain to diversify its economy and is one of the countries with the youngest average population in the world, this has helped to brighten the focus. The Nigerian stock exchange said in June that it planned to launch a blockchain-enabled platform in 2023 to deepen trading and attract young investors to the market.
With this partnership, Adesoji Adesugba, CEO of Nigeria Export Processing Zones Authority, said that the country’s goal is to generate a thriving virtual free zone to take advantage of a nearly trillion-dollar virtual economy in blockchain and the digital economy.
Experts say the Binance digital city would make use of technologies for resource optimisation and less environmental pollution, information and communication technologies, among others, to improve the quality of human life, urban operational efficiency and services, and competitiveness while making sure that it supports present and future generations in economic, social, and environmental aspects.
The Middle East and North Africa with Abu Dhabi and Dubai respectively are enjoying the realities of a digital city and have been ranked as the smartest cities in these regions in the Smart City Index 2021 by the Institute for Management Development in collaboration with Singapore University for Technology and Design.
Access to smart infrastructure and services including health and safety, transportation, relaxation activities, business or career opportunities, and governance were also considered. Reports show that the digital city came with opportunities for investment and innovative development, as well as emerging and smart technologies to transform into a future-forward city.
Some innovations that are a result of these efforts include Dubai Data Strategy, Dubai 10X, Smart Dubai 2021, Dubai Blockchain Strategy, and Dubai Pulse Platform, among others.