In his SONA speech, President Ramaphosa spoke of his dream for a new, smart city in SA, as our population reaches 60 million. Meanwhile, ‘Megacities’, cities with a population of at least 10 million, are sprouting everywhere in Africa. Cairo in Egypt, Kinshasa in the DRC and Lagos in Nigeria are already megacities, while it is estimated that Luanda in Angola, Dar es Salaam in Tanzania and Johannesburg will reach 10m by 2030, according the United Nations. Abidjan in Côte d’Ivoire and Nairobi in Kenya will surpass the 10 million threshold by 2040. And by 2050 Ouagadougou in Burkina Faso, Addis Ababa in Ethiopia, Bamako in Mali, Dakar in Senegal and Ibadan and Kano in Nigeria will join the ranks—bringing the total number of megacities in Africa to 14 in about 30 years. The State of African Cities 2018, a UN report, says that Johannesburg, Lagos and Nairobi are the leading investment attractions in sub-Saharan Africa. Private investors often accompany financing with technological know-how. For example, smart city projects across SA, such as Johannesburg’s Melrose Arch, require a diverse range of talent. Foreign investors with expertise in this field can draw on their own experience and contacts to put the necessary skills in place.
Meanwhile, in Nigeria the local accents feature unveiled at an event in Lagos this month and available on Google Assistant, is the first move by the Google to offer such a service in Africa. Rapidly expanding populations, increased mobile phone penetration and crowded cities that are often poorly signposted have led technology firms to identify African countries as potential growth areas. They are now offering transport features from detailed maps to motorcycle ride-hailing services. Google’s motorcycle directions will also be available in Benin Republic, Ghana, Rwanda, Togo and Uganda. Google says it is aiming to capture new users and expand its appeal beyond just drivers. In the coming months, the maps feature will also allow users in Lagos to seek directions on what it calls “informal transit” – such as yellow danfo minibuses that are found everywhere in Lagos, but about which it is almost impossible for outsiders, or even Lagosians travelling to a new neighbourhood, to find information.