As the smart city concept continues to gain global acceptance as a valuable tool for the development of the critical sectors of urban life, some scholars doubt its relevance to Africa. This panel seeks to examine the concept, especially the extent of its viability and adaptability for use in Africa.
Smart cities have been described as "a developed urban area that creates sustainable economic development and high quality of life by excelling in multiple key areas; economy, mobility, environment, people, living, and government". Although the concept continues to receive global acceptance as a tool for the development of critical areas of urban life, some scholars remain skeptical to the relevance of the concept to Africa. Other scholars however believe that rather than view it with suspicion, efforts should be geared towards taking advantage of the concept to speed up the development of the continent. This panel seeks to examine the smart city concept within the African context. It will offer discussions around the viability and adaptability of the concept for the socio-economic development of the continent and its people. Issues to be discussed will include: a) The potential of smart cities as sites for advancing development and the deepening of regional integration in Africa. b) The relevance of the concept in addressing poverty levels in rural areas, especially in terms of the effective management of rural-urban migration. c) The contextual factors that will shape the viability or non-viability of the concept in Africa. d) The options available for Africa to finance its smart city initiatives. Our expectation is that stakeholders from different backgrounds - government, solution providers, professionals and the academia - will form the panel. Each panelist will discuss his or her perspective after which we would then open it up to the audience for comments and suggestions.