Lagos@50 Int’l Conference: Smart people, smart services, smart city – A Review

First of all, national and state anthem

Considering the impressive number of ideas that were brewed at the 2-day LagosAt50 International conference tagged “Towards a Smart City“, the conference can be adjudged successful by all standards.

Right from the welcome address, the Governor of Lagos State, Akinwunmi Ambode, had set a good tone for the deliberations, asking directly that everyone involved, from the discussants to moderators and speakers must be unashamedly frank while tabling their views and comments throughout the span of discussions at the conference. Adding that, he expected a flow of new and virgin thoughts and ideas to kick-start the smart city dream.

The Governor also noted that setting a smart city dream for Lagos state was a thought already poised to happen in due time, considering the fact that Lagos, being one of the largest economies in Africa, remains a leader and pacesetter regarding giant strides as such.

The keynote speaker, Professor Paul Colier, opened the floor for discussion with a cogent thought that a smart city is that which possesses the capacity to function not only for the elite, but for everybody. He moved on to note that thankfully, Lagos has seen sustained progress in d past 18 years of democratic rule, a period where mutual trust has been established between the governing and the governed, and how that served as a solid foundation for building a smart city that yields productivity for all.

After gliding through a succinct delivery of his ideas to achieve smart city of Lagos, Professor Colier stepped aside to join the audience to listen and weigh in on the plethora of thoughts from other discussants and panellists. Each of them gave insightful views about where Lagos is coming from, where she is, and the smart destination where Lagos should be. The major points of discuss traversed transportation, security, proper census, robust data, infusion of ICT, decongestion, health, rule of Law, art, the ease of doing business, amongst other keys areas.

One area of discuss that served as a major highlight was the economy of Lagos and what must be done with it to befit and bear the demands of smart city. One of the discussants, Mr. Dapo Adelegan, notably opined that for Lagos to actually become a smart city, there should be a concrete plan to globalize Lagos’ brand and economy, and the point really rang home. Tayo Oviosu, founder of Paga, while citing his opinions as touching ICT for a smart city of Lagos, also remarked notably that Africa grows where Nigeria grows and Nigeria grows where Lagos grows, such that the city need not be caught unprepared for the demands of its growing population while it could do ‘smart’ via ICT. In his forte, ace producer and musician, Cobham Asuquo, described Lagos as ad melting point of ideas, and that the moment Lagos is armed with the capacity to embrace these ideas in full for implementation a d integration, that is when the city becomes smart.

Many other notable remarks were made to sound the clock of getting Lagos smart enough to work better and set a great legacy for the up and coming generation, to enjoy living in a city that beats excellence and smacks of smartness in every sphere of being a citizen.

As the sessions drew to a close, Governor Akinwunmi Ambode admonished endearingly, that, for most of all the fine smart city ideas to work and become indeed achievable, Lagosians must also become a smart people who should continuously imbibe a culture of giving smart services and smart solutions that would be worthy of and for a smart city, starting now. A remark that was met with rapturous appreciation by the panellists and audience, judging by the way they clapped away.

From these above, it is obvious Lagos has struck another epochal cord in the annals of impressive development with this “Towards a Smart city” conference and idea that was birthed to celebrate the state at 50; and quite frankly indeed, if all these ideas, considerations, thoughts, visions and missions that were brewed in these two days of frank talk would be set in motion for implementation, a smart Lagos of smart people, smart services and smart institutions is on the horizon.

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