May 27, 2021

African smart cities and the future of connectivity

By Steve Briggs, Chief Sales and Marketing Officer at SEACOM South Africa.

Many nations around the world are developing interconnected smart cities - even in Africa. The long-term sustainability of this 21st-century urban design is determined by its investments in human capital, transportation, ICT infrastructure and economic development. All of these factors will assist in ensuring that citizens of smart cities live a higher quality of life.

While this may seem like a utopian idea, particularly in a country where poverty and unemployment are widespread, it is a concept that may easily become a reality in the near future. A smart city in Kenya or Uganda could be built within the next decade with the proper infrastructure and development partners.

However, in order to make this dream a reality, it is important to remember that smart cities are based on technology - not simply the installation of digital interfaces in buildings, but the actual use of technology and data to make better decisions and enhance people's lives. Choosing the right partners for the job is of paramount importance as they will have to be world-class specialists in the areas of ICT and technology.

The digital infrastructure developed by these partners will be fundamental for a successful smart city and its interconnected technologies. If the right partners are involved, Kenya would indeed be able to build its first smart city as a shining example to the rest of Africa.

Africa and the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals

The United Nations (UN) has declared that internet access is a human right, implying that internet access is now equally as essential as electricity, water, and sanitation. Smart cities are at the pinnacle of achieving the UN's global 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). These SDGs were established to ensure a more prosperous future for all peoples of the world.

ESI Thoughtlab recently conducted a survey that included 167 cities from six regions of the world: Africa, Asia Pacific, Europe, Latin America, the Middle East, and North America. The cities were ranked based on their technological advancements and use of technology to enhance social, environmental, and economic conditions.

Smart city leaders made up 22% of the 167 cities studied, while intermediates made up 49% and beginners made up 29%. African cities were found to be the least advanced in terms of leveraging data and technology to engage their citizens.

“Africa faces the most challenges in meeting the SDG commitments, with its high levels of environmental degradation, poverty, and unemployment,” according to Gerald Uche Maduabuchi, one of the survey's contributors. He went on to explain that social media and mobile broadband penetration, on the other hand, provide some unique possibilities for smart city solutions. Africa, despite having the second smallest average technology budget, has the will and ambition to build smart cities.

Hope for the future of smart cities in Africa

Many African cities are currently making significant investments in mobile, biometrics, the Internet of Things, and cloud technology. These are areas where the private sector and government can work together to accelerate smart city ambitions.

The major arterial system for the viability of smart cities is connectivity infrastructure. These networks and systems must be developed and implemented by ICT specialists that share the vision that smart cities are indeed the future of the human experience. For more information or to get a quote for our ICT infrastructure solutions, email us at or leave us a message.

SEACOM owns Africa’s most extensive network of information and communications technology (ICT) infrastructure, including subsea cables and secure internet connections. We offer a diverse range of flexible, scalable and high-quality solutions for businesses that meet world-class standards for connectivity.

SEACOM is privately owned and operated, making it agile and adaptable to the needs of the customer. This makes us the preferred ICT and internet connectivity partner for African businesses and peripheral service providers. We can guarantee high-speed, low-latency and secure internet connections to corporates and small enterprises.

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