By Clifford Agugoesi
Eko Hotel & Suites Lagos, south west, Nigeria got agog with activities Thursday, July 21, as the 2nd Edition of Tech Plus, which prides itself as Africa’s Largest TECH Event, a gathering of all things TECH, kicked off in impressive start.
The event which is Themed ‘A connected World” and spanning from 21st to 23rd of July, 2016, witnessed speeches, lectures, events, games and other side attractions.
Tech Plus is a convergence of everything technology and provides a unique multilateral experience for tech enthusiasts and serves as a market place for the consumers as well as businesses.
In one of the Breakout Sessions: Smart Governments, Integrating Technology for Service Delivery, a Professor of Strategic Management at IESE Business School, University of Navarra, Spain, Joan Enric Ricart noted that the key element in the transformation of a city is not government but smart government. Stating that 50 per cent of the world currently lives in cities, he said that a valid question which smart city enthusiasts should ask themselves is: What are we doing to ensure our cities are on the path of opportunities and not on the path of challenges?
According to Prof. Ricart one way to look at smart cities is by using the periscope of City Competitiveness and he listed the critical ingredients to watch as including, but not limited to infrastructure both hard connectivity or core physical infrastructure and soft connectivity, institutions for local governance, leadership and vision, strategic planning, and collaboration from PPPs, stressing that the essence of smart cities, is convenient governance.
Although all cities crave being smart, Ricart stated not all of them meet the criteria. To achieve a smart city status, he advised that city planners should do the followings: plan strategically, think beyond technology, have a different mindset, factor in collaboration and put the citizens at the centre of their plans and innovate.
Adding his insight into the topic, Telecom & Electrical Engineer and Former Smart City Director & Deputy CIO (Barcelona City Council ) Josep Ramon Ferrer remarked that smart city equated with innovation and information technology, adding technology ultimately is for the people. According to him, three decades ago, the city of Barcelona had no chance of being ranked among smart cities, but all that has changed, thanks to technology.
Ferrer noted cities are in competition but said they have a good opportunity to collaborate under concept smart. According to him, an IT Strategic Plan of smart cities should incorporate mobility, good governance and technology, including cloud computing and big data, among others.
A representative of the Acting Director-General of the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Dr. Femi Adeluyi spoke on ICT and Local Content Development for SMEs in a Connected World. Dr. Adeluyi described SMEs as the engine of any economy, critical to job creation, innovation and economic growth. He quoted a NOTAP statistics indicating that Nigeria spends US$1billion annually for software imports, many of which have local substitutes.
He disclosed that NITDA will soon come up with a National Software Policy, a component of which will be Software Testing Centres “to validate software centres before they are accredited,” all efforts being directed towards addressing the national software challenges.
Adeluyi also hinted that the agency is mulling an E-Nigeria Conferenced billed for the last quarter of 2016.
Among the challenges confronting SMEs, which he identified, included preference of Nigerians for foreign products, limited market access, limited networks, limited capacity, logistics and funding.
Tech Plus is being bankrolled by a consortium of companies including MTN Nigeria, Samsung, Lenovo, LASAA, Jumia, Terragon, and Digital Reality, among others.