Africa is likely to become the fastest-growing urbanizing region in the world. It is the most rural currently, as only about 40 percent of the continent’s 1.2 billion people are living in cities. One of the sprawling heartlands, Lagos, is in its relative infancy and set for a growth support.
With the booming urban populations, many wonder how Africa will cope. Nevertheless, there are indications that Africa’s largest city is ready to start becoming a smart city by next year.
Gov’t Seed Fund For Tech
Sanwo-Olu, Governor of Lagos State, said Thursday that it has given a seed fund of NGN 25 Mn (USD 687 K ). The investment, which was directed to the Lagos State Science and Tech Council – launched on the same day – is meant to provide funding for the tech industry. According to the governor, the fund will be used to support tech entrepreneurs and innovation in Lagos.
The establishment of the council started the implementation of strategies that would help the state realise its Smart City Initiative. The USD 687 K funding will also go into the research and development of tech-focused solutions across the six pillars of the agenda of the present administration.
The initiative is similar to the USD 14.5 Bn Kenyan ambition to create its own Silicon Valley – Konza City. From all indications, the project is still in it planning stages and expected to be accomplished by 2020.
Lagos has also become one of the investment hotspots in the continent, as evidenced by almost USD 400 Mn being poured into the city’s fintech sector in a week. The city already has the makings of a jewel in the crown of Nigerian tech.
By now, ride-hailing in Lagos has become a children’s bedtime story. The increase of app-enabled services in the metropolis suggests that its mobility landscape is set for a dramatic turn-around.
Having attracted funding no short of audacious from around the world – especially from China – Lagos is mostly defining the e-hailing sector of the entire Nigeria. The Populations Reference Bureau says the city will double in size over the next 15 years. This comes with a host of challenges for which more tech solutions will be developed to ease the growing pains.
In October, Governor Sanwo-Olu said Lagos would establish a functional helicopter transport system. The news, which came on the heels of the launch of UberBoat in the city, was topped up by a USD 5 Mn spending by Eko Innovation Center to fix the hellish Lagos traffic.
Established that traffic time if reduced by 20 percent would save Lagos State at least USD 1 Bn yearly, e-hailing startups are doubling down to reap the fruits of an increasingly digitized system.
The housing problem in Lagos cannot be overemphasized. According to Babatunde Adejare, State commissioner for environment, not less than 6,000 people come into the state on a daily basis. While the cost of renting or buying a dream home in the city is high, Lagos reportedly needs more than 185,000 new buildings to reduce the housing deficit of about 3 million.
In July 2019, Rendeavour – a leading real estate developer in Sub-Saharan Africa, committed USD 250 Mn to help Lagos build more infrastructure. The company who currently has a project in Alaro City within the Lekki Free Zone area, plans to cap the investment with USD 1.5 Bn next year.
Rendeavour plans to build 60,00 residences in Alaro City, while developing seven cities in (other parts of) Nigeria, Kenya, Ghana and Zambia. In conjunction with the Lagos State Government, they have planned Alaro City as a 2,000-hectare, market-led smart city project.
The transition from a megacity to a smart city will not be an easy one. But with more of the problems exposed and series of tech-enabled companies rising to the occasion, Africa’s largest city might finally break through the fence.
Featured Image: Benjamin Dada.