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Smart Cities

We haven’t written anything about Smart Cities for some time, but the developments in Mauritius’s Beau Plan smart city caught our eye.  Touted as “Africa’s first integrated, international hub for the media and creative industries,” the MediaCity project was conceived as a hub of creativity, innovation, and learning on the continent with both the infrastructure and technology to support this. One component of MediaCity Mauritius—African Media Campus (MediaCity School)—is scheduled for kick-off by September 2022, while the rest of the project should be rolled out by 2024.

MediaCity will be a “gateway for Africa to fulfill its long-awaited creative and commercial potential, attracting world-class media and creative companies,” according to a press release. The hub is designed to be a home for international production companies, creative agencies, video game companies, broadcasters, and global media companies. Mauritius is looking to capitalize on the prospects of rising Subscription Video on Demand (SVOD) services in Africa, fostered by the increase of daily online content during Covid-19 lockdowns. The expectation is that these services will rise to a total of 12.96 million subscriptions by 2025, with Netflix subscriptions accounting for almost half of this. Details are however scanty as to how feasible the plans will go beyond futuristic computer-generated images to a globally-acclaimed digital hub.

Similar lofty, smart projects on the continent, notably the “New York of Africa” (Modderfontein New City in SA) have still to appear. Others like Konza smart city in Kenya have been dragging on for years since they were announced, and with no indication if ever they will be completed. Eko Atlantic in Nigeria has been criticized for being far removed from the reality of day to day urban life in Lagos. Akon city in Senegal is meant to run on cryptocurrency, but so far the national financial regulations and Senegal ban the new currencies.

 

Alastair Tempest

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