The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Geoffrey Onyeama, has urged private sectors in Nigeria to invest in information and communication technology to bridge infrastructure deficit in the sector.
Speaking on the Transform Africa Summit, 2017, in Kigali, Rwandan capital, Onyeama said unless the huge infrastructure deficit in Nigeria and Africa was addressed, achieving the Smart Africa Initiative would be difficult.
The “smart cities” initiative was to leverage technology solutions to improve efficiency of cities in Africa.
Onyeama maintained that lack of infrastructure was one of the impediments that must be addressed for Nigeria and Africa to develop smart cities.
The minister, who stressed the need for investment in the ICT infrastructure to achieve the goal, said the Public Private Partnership (PPP) was really essential to driving technology in Nigeria.
“As it was said there is no one technology that is necessarily going to overcome some of these challenges of infrastructures.
“What it just requires and I think this is what came out clearly, is partnership between government and the private sector and the academia.
“And together, these three can begin to put in place all the building blocks to have smart cities including in Nigeria,” he said.
Onyeama said Nigeria succeeded in the communication sector as a result of PPP.
He said that Nigeria in the past 20 years, was able to engage the private sector into providing phone lines to about 100 million people as against the 400, 000 telephone lines that were there to serve 150 million people.
Also speaking, the Executive Vice Chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Prof. Umar Dambatta said inadequate infrastructure was the bane of ICT development.
Dambatta expressed concern on how the Smart Africa initiative would be realised without necessary infrastructure, such as sufficient electricity supply.
“As a regulator, I experience some challenges of how we can drive the smart initiative. One major challenge is that of infrastructure.
“Nigeria has about a population of 180 million, equals to the population of all the countries in the sub-Saharan Africa.
“Without adequate electricity supply, Africa would remain a dark continent,” he said.