Speaking with ESI Africa, three experts in the energy sector unanimously noted that ICT is the backbone for developing viable smart cities in Africa.

“The important thing is the deployment of ICT; that’s how we are going to make sure we improve communications. Communication between people and gadgets,” underlined Nelisiwe Magubane, Matleng Energy Solutions’ chairperson.

Additionally, Magubane says you need to make sure that you don’t just roll out energy but you must roll out ICT. “What is required is a different way of thinking, in other words you might find that we don’t need huge transmission lines crisscrossing the country anymore. We probably need to have localised energy solutions – we need to have localised water provisions,” she adds.

But now with such strategic thinking, what kind of technologies would be suitable to realise localised solutions?

Brian Williams, ENR industry advisor at SAP Africa, says the best ICT investments would be the platforms that allow citizens to trust the services that they are going to be provided with.

Williams breaks down the platform into three parts;

  1. ease of use,
  2. trust factor, and
  3. the regulatory context that would allow competition for the citizens to receive those services.

Food, energy, water nexus linked to smart cities

Guest research scholar at the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis in Austria, Paul Yillia, emphasises the need for a holistic approach to managing water, energy and food as well as some other sectors that are related to this stream.

“I usually use a simple analogy; I say if you look at a smart phone – in the past we needed a camera, we needed a telephone, we needed a computer but today we have all of this integrated in one system for a price of less than one of those in the past. And look at the output; we are even getting more out of it than we are getting from the individual things as we used to have,” noted Yillia.

Watch the full interview below for more on this topic: