from MTHULISI SIBANDA in Johannesburg, South Africa
JOHANNESBURG – THE emergence of fifth generation networks (5G) connectivity and deployment of cables will speed the reshaping of Africa’s urban centres as smart cities.
This is according to technology executive, Mandisa Ntloko-Petersen, who noted the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has seen a stark change in city centres across the world.
“The evolution of cities to smart cities during a pandemic is nothing new,” said Ntloko-Petersen.
The Chief of Marketing at BCX mentioned that London, New York and Paris in England, United States and France respectively, installed proper sewage systems in the 19th century after outbreaks of cholera and other diseases.
She noted there had been physical changes in cities across the world in terms of more bike lanes, greater use of parks, open-air cinemas and wider pavements, with technology driving and refining the infrastructure changes that define how humans engage with cities daily.
Ntloko-Petersen said for Africa, and South Africa in particular, the spread of 5G connectivity was key to the realisation of smart cities.
“The speed and reliability of a mobile connection allows for real-time communication between user and the city,” she said.
The executive also highlighted that global internet companies were investing in upgrading Africa’s digital infrastructure.
“Google have just laid the first phase of cable from Lisbon to Cape Town, while Facebook is working on installing some 35 000km of cable around Africa by 2024. Africa is seen as a place for tech growth.”
In February last year, South African president, Cyril Ramaphosa, spoke of a smart city in the Gauteng province.
While there were many who applauded him and understood where he was coming from, there were some who felt South Africa had greater issues to concern itself with, Ntloko-Petersen said.
“Since then, because of the changes forced on us by the pandemic, we have seen an exponential jump in Africa’s digital transformation that has seen some of what the president spoke about already implemented and the groundwork for further change both plausible, necessary and within reach.”
– CAJ News