By Fadekemi Ajakaiye
If you are a Nigerian born long before the late 1990s, you probably remember the excitement that met mobile telephone introduction into the market back in 2001. You probably remember that many people did not own landlines at the time, so expectations were high. But today, Nigeria has about 36% smartphone adoption rate.
This is the type of trend ‘Smart Cities’ will set in the coming future. To understand how, let us review some of the trends that led to the emergence of smart cities around the world.
In 2019, the UN report on World Urbanization Prospects stated that by 2050, there will be very few countries where rural dwellers are expected to be higher than urban. Some of these countries are across Sub-Saharan Africa, Asia, Pacific Island states, and Guyana in Latin America.
When you look at historical drifts, two key factors shaped the narratives of Real Estate in this century. First is the extraordinary growth in global population followed by the unparalleled increase in the number of cities based on demands. These disruptions happen to occur at the same time with the digitization era or what is termed as the fourth industrial revolution- ‘4IR’.
So, you can imagine the number of people that migrated from rural and peri-urban areas to the city in search of greener pastures. Some migrated with the hope of accessing white collar jobs, modern amenities, better opportunities while others would simply like to be called ‘city dwellers.
This year alone, 56.2 per cent of the world population lives in the city, and half of these people lived in towns of less than 500,000 inhabitants. If we consider the recent report by World Economic Forum on the projected increase in population by 2050, the world population will hit nine billion in 2050. 80 per cent of these people are expected to live in cities.
With more people moving to the urban areas, not just in Nigeria but across the world, most cities will need to device means of attending to the complex demands created by massive urbanisation. Some of these demands are what almost all city dwellers in Nigeria experience every day. Issues ranging from limited access to existing resources, overcrowded and poorly maintained establishments, pollution, amongst others.
To ensure that these challenges are either solved or ameliorated, the United Nations, world leaders, real estate developers, and investors offered the development of ‘Smart Cities’ as a sustainable solution.
Smart Cities are the future
According to Ronald Chagoury Jr, the Vice Chairman of Eko Atlantic City, “Smart cities like Eko Atlantic are well-planned, efficiently-designed developments that use technology to make decisions and find solutions to everyday issues. Our aim is to build an eco-friendly city that is self-sufficient and sustainable. Just the way smartphones revolutionised communication, smart cities like Eko Atlantic will revolutionise the real estate sector.”
However, a smart city is does not solely depend on ICT but also on more advanced technological applications like; global positioning systems; geographical information systems; and remote sensing.
Smart cities are designed to address most of the impediments created by urbanisation and to build cities that are environmentally friendly and sustainable.
The United Nations now came up with reliable estimates on how the property industry can help limit the rise in global temperature. From the estimate, players in the industry need to reduce the average energy intensity of buildings by at least 30 per cent.
To achieve this, they relied on new technology. Latest innovations include sensors that optimise energy consumption through smart management of heating, ventilation and other building operation processes.
Also, you must have experienced the waste and noise pollution that comes from construction sites, these new technologies can make construction and development more sustainable. Through tech application, waste and noise pollution are reduced considerably. This is achieved through streamlined activities such as modular construction, where parts of the building are constructed in a controlled factory environment. The modular construction can be reused and replaced.
Do Nigerian developers have the capacity and resources to build smart cities?
This pertinent question has been answered by Eko Atlantic City, through its 10 million square metres of land reclaimed from the ocean and protected by an 8.5-kilometre-long sea wall. Gradually evolving to a technological masterpiece and a state-of-art green city, Eko Atlantic is one of the innovations of modern engineering and technology which has placed Nigeria at the world stage of smart cities.
The city’s advanced urban designs are hard to miss. Strongly protected by the ‘Great Wall’, Eko Atlantic City is self-sufficient and sustainable. Designed to offer the best of life to residents and businesses, the City generates its own power, clean water, advanced telecommunications, spacious roads, and tree-lined streets.
When observed closely, you will marvel at the level of dexterity and expertise that are put in place to create the city’s infrastructural designs. These infrastructures are tech-driven road works and underground surface drainage pipes which are already laid along major routes across the new city. With this strategic network, the city is positioned to manage waste drainage without clogging the waterways.
Across Eko Atlantic, there are independent reliable electricity, advanced fiber optic telecoms, and clean water utility services that are already installed below street level.
Developers and residents are already taking advantage of the cities state-of-art infrastructural developments, which includes:
- · Modern and efficient masterplan: self-sufficient and sustainable
- · Advanced Infrastructure: uninterrupted power, clean water, underground drainage and world class communication
- · Designed to the highest standards, meeting present and futures demands
- · Independent 24/7 power supply
- · Water and wastewater treatment
- · Fiber optic communication connections to every plot of land
- · Plots of land are delivered with connection to utility services
- · Elevated street levels to accommodate basement parking above ground water
- · Building in a city specifically planned for medium to high density development
- · 10.2km long waterfront promenade
- · 2 large marinas connected by an internal waterway
Unquestionably, Eko Atlantic City has redefined what the future of smart cities should be not just in Nigeria but across Africa.