The UN estimates that about a quarter of the world’s population will live in Africa by 2015, and most of them in urban areas. This will require African cities to rethink urban development. The smart city concept, which pioneered in the early 2000s offers viable options. Other continents have already extensively embraced the idea with India having 731 smart city projects (24 already complete). In Africa, here is a highlight of the top 5 smart city initiatives on the continent:
Konza Techno City, Kenya
The project which has come to be known as Africa’s Silicon Savannah, is a Kenyan urban initiative 60 kilometres South East of the capital, Nairobi on 5000 acres of land. Experts estimate that the city will cost $15.5bn to put up and will generate about $1bn for the country annually. Envisioned as a global technology hub under the country’s Vision 2030, the city will include cutting edge technologies in Education, Life sciences, Telecoms, Business Processing Outsourcing and Information Technology Enabled Services. Its smart city framework includes interconnectedness and embedded sensors in the urban environment.
Eko Atlantic, Nigeria
The new coastal city under construction on Victoria Island, bordering Lagos is a modern marvel. The city is built on about 2400 acres of land reclaimed from the Atlantic Ocean and protected by a 8.5 kilometre long sea wall. The city will include independent reliable electricity, advanced fibre optic telecoms, and state of the art urban design. In 2009, the Clinton Global Initiative recognised Eko Atlantic as one of the most inspired and ambitious civil engineering projects in Africa. Upon completion, the economic impacts of the $6bn urban behemoth might just save Africa’s largest and fastest growing mega city with an estimated potential to create 250,000 new jobs.
Hope City, Ghana
Located in Greater Accra region, Ghana’s own Silicon Valley, was designed to host Africa’s tallest building and hold its own in the tech hub arena. The development, a product of leading Italian architects, was designed to host a cluster of buildings on an ICT Park was intended to create more than 50,000 jobs for the ICT sector in Ghana. However, implementation of the master plan has been stagnated since 2013 due to economic downturns. It remains to be seen whether the $10bn project will materialize to change Africa’s skyline for good.
Vision City, Rwanda
Overlooking the city from the hilly backdrop of Kigali, Vision City personifies the ethos of the smart city movement in Africa. The largest housing project in the country’s history is at the centre of Rwanda’s urban transformation campaign. According to the plans, the city will focus on innovation to drive Africa’s digital transformation agenda. Launched in 2013, the cost of putting up the city is estimated at $1.9bn and will provide housing for 22,000 people over eight years.
Waterfall City, South Africa
The largest mixed-use development in South Africa, Watefall City is Gauteng’s new work, live and play address. The new development is strategically placed adjacent o Africa’s largest mall, Mall of Africa. The development spanning 2200 hectares of land, is expected to be completed in 2025. With a contemporary design embodying the essence of an integrated lifestyle package, the development offers the opportunity to experience work-life balance at its best. The $1.2bn development is projected to create 86,000 jobs.