By Nse Anthony-Uko
(Sundiata Post) — The Executive Vice Chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission, Prof Umar Garba Danbatta, has called for alignment of synergy between the public and private sectors with a view to attaining the goal of smart cities in Nigeria.
Danbatta spoke in Abuja while chairing a session to discuss “Building Innovative Public Private Partnerships for Achieving Nigerian Smart Cities Vision”, at a conference, Smart Cities Nigeria, organised by the Federal Ministry of Communications.
“To ensure the deployment of required infrastructure towards meeting the National Broadband Plan objectives as well as building the foundation for smart cities in Nigeria, there is the need for partnerships and collaborations between the public and private sectors,” he pointed out.
According to the professor of telecommunications, however, the partnerships should aim at aligning the government’s objectives of driving pervasive broadband infrastructure for socio-economic development in the country and the objective of private sector for business opportunities. “This alignment of objectives requires innovative funding and financing mechanism as well as incentives that will provide the required impetus for the private sector to take lead in driving the attainment of smart cities in Nigeria,” he noted.
He, however, observed that the government’s role of providing clear policy and regulatory frameworks needs to be translated to concentrate actions in terms of articulating a clear roadmap, implementation plan and coordination mechanism towards the attainment of relevant stakeholders’ objectives.
Speaking further, Danbatta said, “Internet of Things (IOT) is the next big thing in the evolution of the information and communications Technology space”, stressing that IOT is a key aspect of smart cities that Nigeria aims to achieve.
He listed areas in need of special attention as: expansion of required ICT infrastructure in the cities that aim to become smart cities, addressing power supply challenges, high Right of Way (RoW) charges, and multiple taxation and regulation.
Other challenges according to him are: availability of frequency spectrum, level of digital literacy, effective communication of the value and benefits of Smart Cities to key stakeholders, and lastly, developing business models that take Nigeria operating environment into consideration.