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Notes on the African Smart Cities Investment Summit in Kigali



By Dolapo Aina

The African Smart Cities Investment Summit in Kigali which had over one thousand delegates, over eighty speakers, twenty-five sessions and over forty-nine sessions brought to the fore the importance and the necessity for African Smart Cities. The speakers from their own varied perspectives stated and alluded to the fact that cities cannot be built the way cities used to be conceptualised, developed and built. Cities need to be attuned with the realities of the 21st century. A smart city uses technology and data-driven solutions to improve the quality of life for its residents, enhance sustainability and maximise urban services. It was also stated that second and third cities have to be developed and built as smart cities.

During the first day, the Mayor of Kigali, Mayor Prudence Rubingisa: stated that; “hosting this summit at a time when digital tech is changing the way of living for everyone globally, in cities, second cities and satellite cities. This summit would solidify cities’ position to transform into smart cities. The progress we seek is dependent on our collective collaborations within countries, sister cities, exchange solutions and challenges.”

Governor James Muchiri, Deputy Governor of Nairobi County stated that; “Through Smart Cities Initiatives; they are a driver and avenue to create cities of order for all where no one is left behind. Nairobi County has undergone citizens’ digital delivery (online services range from parking, licenses and trade licences). The main role is to improve urban planning using different city data of Nairobi.” He further talked about how the Nairobi County is utilising smart cities templates in different sectors e.g., medical services delivery, public transportation, government services and digital eco-system. He ended by encouraging collaborations amongst cities.

Belen Calvo Ugarra; EU Ambassador to Rwanda in her speech opined that “Cities are where innovation happens. Rwanda is championing the Smart Cities’ innovation on the continent. Smart cities need to be where innovation happens.”

Dr. Ozonnia Ojielo UN Resident Coordinator for Rwanda in his speech stated that; “Meeting in Kigali today is opportune for three main reasons. First, the Government of Rwanda has demonstrated visionary leadership and innovation with respect to e-government and shifting to digital and smart city development. The leadership of His Excellency President Paul Kagame has embarked on a remarkable journey to not only embrace urbanization but to harness it as a force for positive change. Rwanda’s commitment to smart cities and its pioneering efforts to address climate change are truly inspiring. Second, in the last two decades Rwanda has witnessed the proliferation of cities. Urbanization is currently estimated at 18%. Although, this rate is among the lowest in the world, with an estimated annual growth rate of the urban population of 4.5%, compared to the worldwide average of 1.8% urbanization calls for urgent interventions. The urbanization explosion in Rwanda is occurring in the context of changing climate. The effects of the changes in urbanization and climate manifest in unique ways, therefore, presenting new challenges and opportunities for sustainable urbanization. The growing demand to address these new challenges and the need to harness opportunities resulting from changes in climate and urbanization have resulted in the urgency for climate compatible urbanization. The intensified rainfall, and prolonged dry seasons that Rwanda has been experiencing in the last decade is generating myriad of challenges. These include increased flooding, more landslides, notable water shortage, contamination of water sources, and destruction and/or loss of municipal, private business, community, and household assets. The impact of these adverse effects is increased and potentially perpetual vulnerability of cities, businesses, communities, and households. At scale, Rwanda’s recent experience with urbanisation, are no different to the realities of urbanization globally.

The United Nations Resident Coordinator further stated; “This inaugural Summit is also opportune to consider and adopt new ways of responding to the urbanization challenges of today and tomorrow. We are here to catalyse change, to envision, and to shape the future of our cities. Our primary objective is clear: to foster collaboration, innovation, and investment in smart cities across Africa. We aim to identify opportunities, address challenges, and forge partnerships that will drive sustainable urban development. Our cities must be engines of growth, and innovative investment is the fuel that will power these cities. Let us embrace technological advancements to create smarter, more resilient, and more inclusive cities. Our cities must not only thrive but also withstand the challenges of the 21st century. Sustainability and resilience should be at the core of every smart city initiative. Smart cities should leave no one behind. We must ensure that the benefits of urbanization are equitably distributed, regardless of gender, age, or socio-economic background. Yet, smart cities must lead the way in adopting green and sustainable practices. We must prioritize clean and renewable energy sources, invest in green infrastructure, and embrace circular economy principles to reduce waste and emissions. These actions are not only environmentally responsible but also economically advantageous. On our part, the United Nations in Rwanda is committed to promoting and supporting the development of smart cities. This commitment includes advocating for sustainable urban planning, encouraging investments in digital infrastructure and innovation, fostering inclusive and equitable urbanization, and addressing climate change within urban contexts. Through collaborative efforts with government, organizations, and communities, the UN strives to ensure that smart cities prioritize the well-being of their residents, enhance quality of life, and contribute to a more sustainable and resilient future for all. The Government of Rwanda had demonstrated leadership embarking on a remarkable journey on innovation. We need to foster collaboration, partnerships and solve challenges. Cities must not only thrive but face the challenges of the 21st century. Smart cities must lead the way in adopting green solutions. Cities need to be smart and also compassionate as they build cities of our highest aspirations.”
Dr. Ozonnia Ojielo; the UN Resident Coordinator for Rwanda revealed that: “The UN is currently, together with the City of Kigali and the City of Seoul, seeking resources to implement improvements in smart city governance and data management within the Smart Cities and Communities Control Centre initiative of the Government of Rwanda.”

Rwanda’s ICT Minister, Ms Paula Ingabire’s speech in summary was about the emergence of Smart Cities and how Smart Cities have become a global imperative. In her words; “It is truly heartening to witness diverse efforts from various partners across the African Continent converging to propel the smart city agenda forward. We are currently experiencing rapid advancements in the integration of AI, the internet of things, and digital twins for our cities. These developments are fostering a more habitable urban environment. The emergence of smart cities has rightfully taken centre stage, and Rwanda, under the Smart Africa initiative, has taken the lead in championing the theme of smart cities. Today, as we embark on the journey of launching these smart cities, they will not just be physical spaces but also vibrant hubs where ideas, collaboration, creativity, and innovation will flourish. They will undoubtedly serve as catalysts for a citizen-centric approach in practical innovations.”
During the Investing in Africa’s Smart Cities for the next one billion African citizens session, one of the panellists opined that; “In the digital world, if you cannot anticipate the future, it would be difficult to project for the future. There are challenges of entrepreneurs surviving smart cities but Africa needs to have smart cities tailored to Africa. African smart cities. Africa needs to create smart cities that are for Africa.”

During the Growth by Design: Shaping Smart Cities to Nurture Innovation and Entrepreneurship session, a panellist placed emphasis on data to information to decision processes. The panellist further stated that; “Smaller cities can be made more attractive and then grow bigger. Existing cities cannot absorb all the modernisation coming their way. Other cities outside capital cities would have to be developed innovatively.”

During another session, Gbenga Sesan, founder of Paradigm Initiative was of the view and in his words; “Smart Cities need to use technology that are appropriate. Smart Cities cannot be about what vendors are offering but about what the citizens are in need of. In many countries, policymakers kill innovations. Same applies with smart cities. We need to identify people who are providing solutions. You don’t come with policies without knowing what the people in that same sector are doing. Policies need to support what people are doing. In this new digital age, everyone (policymakers, civil societies, citizens, entrepreneurs etc) is still learning. Data might be the new oil but you don’t need to mine it. A lot of the solutions that we have in many African countries and become global solutions die because of the environment.” The Paradigm Initiative founder went further to posit that: “Human rights and data rights are not Western concepts. People need to be given the opportunity to contribute in digital policymaking.” And he ended by asking: “Is there an outreach plan for secondary and third cities to be smart cities?

The following day’s final session titled: “Investing in Homes of the future for all: Innovations in Home Tech and Design” where Dr MKO Balogun stated that: “There are examples of smart homes but how connected and convenient are they? You have a smart home but no smart phones. We should also think of several scenarios. How do you create smart homes that would create healthcare?”

On the other hand, Alex Ndibwami opined that smart needs to go away from just a single household to a neighbourhood level.
Sir Demola Aladekomo, who is a computer engineer from Lagos, Nigeria and the chairman of SmartCity Resorts Plc, Card Centre Nigeria Limited and Chams Consortium Limited gave a wide range of views and was of the opinion that: “The Governments and developers have major roles to play; the land and basic infrastructure to make them available because if you leave it to developers, there would not be anything like affordable housing in Smart Cities. What is affordability? Your house can cost five thousand dollars but costs of the environment can be higher than the cost of the house; which is unaffordable. Africa needs education and empowerment and knowledge is democratised in the 21st century. Smart Cities can be achieved but it takes time to develop these smart cities. Africa should not be in a rush. Since 2002 we have been pushing policies for governments. We need to begin to build polycentric cities. These cities would be attached to the main cities. We also need to build purpose-driven cities. The role of Government cannot be downplayed.”
Another panellist responding to a question from the audience stated that smart cities are still possible without the middle class but it can be a strain. And this is where the government comes in.”

The chief curator for the African Smart Cities Investment in Kigali, Mr. Jean-Philbert Nsengimana recapped the summit and paraphrasing him: “There are five take away Ps for smart cities during the summit: People. policies. partnerships (to get funds, to get investors); platforms (being ahead of the curve with embedded technology); profits (the only way this agenda can be realised is through making profit). Other take aways are: education, inclusiveness.”

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Shaibu Eats Humble Pie, Apologises to Obaseki, Says ‘I Missed My Gov’




Call it the eating of a humble pie, and you may not be wring as the embattled Deputy Governor of Edo State, Philip Shaibu, apologised to Governor Godwin Obaseki amid a face-off between them.

Speaking to reporters on Thursday in Benin City, Mr Shaibu appealed to Governor Obaseki to forgive his “mistakes” for them to continue to work together, Channels TV reported.

“I use this medium to appeal to Mr Governor, if there is anything that I don’t know that I have done, please forgive me so that we can develop our state together,” he said.

“We have just one year to go. We have been the envy of the entire country. So, Mr Governor, if there is anything you feel that I have done, please I am sorry. I need us to work together to finish well and strong,” the deputy governor added.

When asked if he had resumed at his new office, Mr Shaibu said, “We have resumed but there is still a lot of work to be done there.

“There is no problem about it. The governor has asked us to go there. Like I have always tried to prove, I am a loyal servant and nothing has changed.

“I took a personal vow to support my governor and you can see my Catholic people are here. When I took a vow with God, nothing can change it and I wish that the relationship that we had will come back in the next few days and weeks.”

Mr Shaibu also said he has been missing the governor since their rift began, and expressed hope that God will “touch the governor’s heart” to forgive him.

“I mean well. If there is any mistake I have made as a human, it is not out of wickedness because I know I’m not wicked. I have a very clean heart.”

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Tinubu Moves to Stop Release of Academic Records, Appeals US Court Judgement




President Bola Tinubu has appealed against the ruling of  Judge Jeffrey T. Gilbert, sitting at the United States’ District Court of Northern Illinois which ordered the Chicago State University (CSU) to release all relevant records pertaining to him.

SaharaReporters had reported how the federal court in Chicago, while ruling on the civil case filed by Atiku Abubakar, on Tuesday granted the applicant’s request to the court, stating that former Nigeria’s vice-president had been able to sufficiently satisfy the purpose for seeking the records.

In the judgement documents seen by SaharaReporters on Wednesday, Judge Jeffrey Gilbert also ordered a deposition of designated CSU officials within two days after the records have been released, noting further that the process can be conducted during the weekend if necessary.

However, as the school prepared to surrender the papers, Tinubu filed an emergency motion in the district, requesting a higher judge to reconsider Mr Gilbert’s September 19 ruling and postpone the execution until at least September 25, according to People’s Gazette.

“Due to the timing for compliance by Chicago State University – later today – Intervenor is filing this motion separately from its challenge to the Magistrate’s ruling on the application,” Mr Tinubu’s lawyers, led by Christopher Carmichael, said. “Intervenor intends to file, by the end of the day, a substantive brief addressing the errors in the Magistrate’s decision.”


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Boy Whose ‘Intestine Went Missing in Lagos Hospital’ Dies




Twelve-year-old Adebola Akin-Bright, whose small intestine went missing during surgery in the hospital has died.

A close member of the family confirmed the tragedy to BBC News Pidgin, adding that Adebola suffered from internal bleeding.

He was subsequently rushed to the intensive care unit of the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH) but he did not make it.

Adebola had been battling to survive after multiple surgeries were performed on him and it was confirmed that his small intestine was missing.

His mother, Abiodun Deborah had decried the non-intervention of the Lagos State Government, under the leadership of Babajide Sanwo-Olu and the Nigerian Medical Association in the mysterious disappearance of the small intestine of her 12-year-old son while receiving treatment at LASUTH.

Deborah who spoke to SaharaReporters earlier in September narrated how her son, Adebola, was referred to LASUTH from a private hospital, Obitoks Medical Centre situated at Ileepo in the Alimosho Local Government Area of the state on June 17 following a complication from surgery to correct intestinal obstruction.

According to the mother, her son was said to have a ruptured appendix and he had surgery at Obitoks Medical Centre in February 2023.

“After the surgery, he was fine until June when he kept saying he had pain in the stomach. This made us go back to the hospital and the doctor said he had intestinal obstruction and he underwent another surgery,” the mother told SaharaReporters.

She revealed further more than seven days after her son had the second surgery, they noticed that he was still draining bilious fluid.

“We went back to the private hospital and the Chief Medical Doctor told us the boy would undergo another surgery and it will be with the help of a professor from Lagos State University Teaching Hospital, LASUTH.

“This was why we decided to move to LASUTH since the professor is from there so that they can have total management,” she said.

She added the management of LASUTH told them the boy should not undergo another surgery immediately but they kept nursing him.


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