Renowned entrepreneur and Founder of Chams Plc, Sir Demola Aladekomo, has underscored the imperative of developing Smart Cities in Nigeria, responding to the United Nations’ projection of approximately 275 million Nigerians migrating from rural to urban areas by 2050. Aladekomo’s call to action took place during the 8th edition of the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s (LCCI) 2022 Information Communication Technology and Telecommunication (ICTEL) Expo held recently in Lagos.
In his presentation on “Efficient Digital Infrastructures through Smart Cities,” Aladekomo reframed migration as a transformative process rather than a problem. He emphasized the importance of managing the migrating population effectively and understanding migration factors to harness its productive potential, mitigating negative societal impacts.
Citing UN estimates, Aladekomo highlighted that Nigeria’s population is projected to reach about 411 million by 2050 and 794 million by 2100, with rural-urban migration expected to hit 275 million in 2050. Drawing on former UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon’s perspective on migration as an expression of human aspirations, Aladekomo emphasized the need to leverage migration for societal benefit.
Explaining the concept of Smart Cities, he described them as places that enhance the quality of life, offering entertainment, environmental sustainability, and improved security. Aladekomo proposed converting existing poorly structured cities into smart cities through polycentricity and agglomeration.
Polycentricity involves creating decentralized cities around existing urban centers, digitally managing them from inception, while agglomeration involves clustering them in specialized forms such as healthcare cities, technology cities, and agricultural cities. This approach aims to enhance productivity, commerce, cost optimization, job creation, and poverty alleviation.
Key components of Smart Cities, as outlined by Aladekomo, include Smart Governance, Smart Energy, Smart Citizen, Smart Healthcare, Smart Technology, Smart Mobility, Smart Building, and Smart Infrastructure.
Aladekomo suggested leapfrogging relevant technologies to address infrastructural deficits, emphasizing the government’s role in recognizing population growth as an opportunity. He called for accepting rural-urban migration as a reality, utilizing agglomeration and a polycentric governance approach, and leveraging technology for development and administration.
Highlighting SmartCity PLC’s ongoing projects in Ibadan and Osogbo through suburb polycentrism, Aladekomo concluded by urging private sector participation, good governance, adherence to the rule of law, building sustainable institutions, and acknowledging and replicating past successes.
The LCCI ICTEL Expo, where Aladekomo made these insightful remarks, serves as a vital platform for exploring opportunities in Nigeria’s Digital Economy, aligning with the government’s objectives to grow the digital economy and enhance e-governance.