Many forward-thinking cities around the world, including Africa, are taking advantage of technology’s transformative power to engage in sustainable urban development.
By 2020, cities will be home to over 20.8 billion connected things, according to Gartner. Population growth in countries such as Nigeria, with an estimated population of 184 million, will put pressure on local governments to fast-track and streamline service delivery. According to the latest World Bank data, Nigeria’s average inflation will likely remain in the double digits between 2017/2018, placing high expectations on government to accelerate implementation of public and social investment projects and so help promote economic and employment growth.
It is becoming increasingly important today for local governments to create cities that are liveable, effective, competitive, resilient and greener, to be truly sustainable. Many African governments are making headway, delivering on their mandate of providing services that ensure the prosperity of citizens, communities and businesses. Several factors drive this mandate, including legislation, policies and the regulation of citizens’ services. The public services sector has traditionally been viewed as conservative, complex and bureaucratic in comparison to other sectors, but transformation is rapidly taking place in many African countries. “Innovation plays a huge role in helping governments accelerate their pace of technology adoption with regards to faster implementations and real time response to citizens’ needs for better services,” commented Pedro Guerreiro, Managing Director: SAP West Africa.
The ability of forward-looking ‘smart governments’ to thrive is being dictated by several major disruptive changes including globalisation; the level of digitally experienced citizens; safety and several other issues such as security pressures, infrastructure development and service delivery. There is no question that countries that are embracing pervasive mega technology trends such as cloud, IoT, mobility and the related hyper connectivity are thriving and will continue to do so. Considering this, it is critical for governments to prioritise investments into service digitisation, transport-related issues, infrastructure, and public safety. Simply put, innovation plays a huge role in transforming how government provides public services to citizens and how citizens consume those services – technology enables governments to do more with less, empowering and boosting citizens’ quality of living and, most importantly, fuelling economic growth for all.
IoT will change the way many governments institutions operate
Nigerian local government stands to benefit immensely from IoT, especially with the high quality and speed that comes with network connectivity and infrastructure. The escalation in urbanisation and climate change is also putting pressure on cities’ management and government. These require speed and agility, to be able to respond in real-time to challenges such as service disruptions. “The biggest challenge we see is the adoption rate of technology in Africa. The process requires an innovative technology platform with the power to work with multiple data sources across all services while providing real-time insights, enabling cities to make fast, accurate decisions,” added Guerreiro.
Local governments need to capitalise on innovation opportunities by identifying solutions and improving their planning for natural disasters, emergencies and service delivery. Connectivity and data analytics will play an increasingly critical role in helping local governments provide more efficient and effective education, grants, tax collection, healthcare, transport and security services, using real-time technology platforms such as SAP S4/HANA.
The Internet of things is expected to become a $1.46 trillion industry by 2020. This innovation will have a positive influence across the entire public sector. According to the United Nations, as much as 66% of the global population is expected to live in urban areas by 2050. This means that the public sector will face increasing challenges, mostly centred around leveraging limited resources to deal with a growing influx of people requiring basic services.
With the help of SAP, local governments could provide personalised service experiences that are citizen-centric using multiple channels, including social media. This will allow for fast analysis and response to citizens’ needs based on known, predictable day-to-day events and all relevant factors at hand. SAP’s extensive public sector experience with governments across the globe deliver an unrivalled experience of simplified business processes, helping governments to be more nimble and effective than ever before.