Kenya: Nairobi snags smartest African city title; makes it to top 21 globally in ICF list
The avant-garde ICT policy of the Kenyan government has convinced technology-focused multinationals to set up a structure in Nairobi. (Image: Siegfried Modola/IRIN)
The Intelligent Community Forum (ICF) has crowned Kenya`s Nairobi as the smartest city in Africa, making it the second consecutive year that Nairobi has stormed its way into ICF’s exclusive list of the 21 most intelligent cities of the world.
Though Kenya’s capital failed to round up this year’s top seven — dominated by Arlington County (U.S.), Columbus, (U.S.), Ipswich (Australia), Mitchell (U.S.), New Taipei City (Taiwan), Rio de Janeiro (Brazil) and Surrey (Canada) — Nairobi is still the sole African representative to appear in the ranking; making it an example for other countries on the continent.
The East African city also serves as an inspiration for the regional island economy of Mauritius, which is striving to become a smart island and emulate global models in the island ethos, such as Singapore.
Coming back to Nairobi, Kenya`s populous city of 4.3 million had appropriate conditions in place to secure its position in the list. Here’s how it made it to the top 21 globally on the smart city index:
Mobile Money Economy
Nairobi has a dynamic mobile money economy which can be translated into a wealthy pool of subscribers, a mobile phone penetration which has climbed past 70 percent and the emergence of similar companies and rival products to enrich provider’s offerings and keep competition coming.
In addition, the avant-garde ICT policy of the Kenyan government has convinced technology-focused multinationals to set up a structure in Nairobi. Looking at the broader picture, the government of the Eastern African country has launched the Vision 2030 development plan in which ICT has a major role to play.
The iHub model also sits at the centre of Nairobi`s success story. The model has enabled entrepreneurs to elaborate and market products beyond Kenya`s boundaries.
Private Sector and Universities synergies
Furthermore, there is a strong partnership between the private sector fuelled by tech companies such as Huawei, Intel Microsoft, SAP, Oracle, Google and Samsung and the universities of the country to beef up the skills of the students who are to join the marketplace soon.
With a diversified economy revolving around the manufacturing, financial and tourism sectors, Nairobi makes up 60 percent of Kenya`s GDP.
It may be noted that, for the purpose of ICF’s ranking, the criteria that decide the position of a chosen place on the smart city index include their ability to generate opportunities in a digital world and prosper in the broadband economy.
Source: All Africa, Urban Gateway