President Paul Kagame is in Doha where he is attending the Qatar Information Technology Conference and Exhibition (QITCOM) hosted by the Qatar Ministry of Transport and Communication, under the theme “Safe Smart Cities”.
The event is held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad, the Emir of Qatar.
This Wednesday morning, President Kagame delivered a Keynote Address at the #QITCOM2019 Smart City Expo organised to showcase the latest smart technologies and innovations advancing the urban future.
The head of state noted that urbanisation is a key step on any society’s pathway to prosperity.
"Urban life brings people of diverse backgrounds into close contact. In the city, we have the opportunity to learn from each other. Cities also have generated significantly higher levels of economic productivity as well as creativity, Kagame said, adding; "Urbanisation creates the conditions for more complex economies, powered by innovation and services. In short, urbanisation is a key step on any society’s pathway to prosperity,"
He also observed that low urbanisation rate is among the factors that have kept Africa from advancing. However, giving Kigali as an example President Kagame said that this is being addressed.
"It is therefore no accident that Africa still has some of the world’s lowest rates of urbanisation. This is among the factors, that have kept Africa from advancing as quickly as it should have, given our inherent advantages."
Kagame added; "However, the human geography of Africa is in a state of rapid change. The rate of growth of Africa’s cities is on average the highest in the world. For example, in Rwanda, our urbanisation rate is around 6 per cent a year, compared to the global average of around 2 per cent. "
Observing that the population of Rwanda’s capital Kigali increased from around 6,000 residents in 1962 to nearly 1.5 million people today, President Kagame said that this rate is still below the government's plan to raise that to 35 per cent, in the coming years.
However, he said, that Africa is fortunate to be undergoing this wave of urbanisation at this particular time, when smart cities technologies are evolving and maturing, because it presents the region with an opportunity to plan for urbanisation now and do things right.
"This wave of urbanisation is also occurring elsewhere in Africa. It represents a historic window of opportunity for investment, growth and human development. It also means that we have the opportunity to plan now and do things right. We cannot afford to leave urbanisation to chance or go back and fix mistakes later, after costs and damage have already been incurred. This is where technology has a huge role to play," Kagame said.
President Kagame urged the public and private sectors to; "work together to apply the power of technology to enhance the quality of our cities and the future of the people who live in them."
During this two-day conference, cybersecurity, entrepreneurship, artificial intelligence and urban planning will be addressed as the four main topics presenting initiatives and projects about fostering the entrepreneurial scene in cities, innovation hubs and districts, automation in infrastructures, smart transportation and government.
Smart City Expo Doha 2019 aims to gather Smart City experts from all around the world to discuss and think of possible solutions to the challenges cities are facing nowadays by means of innovation and new technologies that are advancing the urban future.
Smart Cities emerge as a framework response to the complexities of an urbanizing World in the digital era.
According to the World Economic Forum, by 2040, 65% of the world’s population will be already living in cities. This is building a scenario where cities are gaining an important role as drivers of the global economy and wealth, along with their substantial position as urban services providers to serve the needs of urban dwellers
Rwandan companies participating in the exhibition include AC Group, Ampersand, Broadband Systems Corporation, Irembo, Pascal Technology, QT Software and a youth-led recycling start-up called Wastezon.
This is Rwanda’s first time to participate in QITCOM.
Rwanda spearheads Smart Africa’s Smart Cities Flagship Programme, which provides guidelines for African governments to integrate technology into urban planning.
Technological applications in Rwandan cities include CCTV camera for public safety, tap-and-go payment and Wi-Fi on public transport Irembo, and e-recruitment for public service.
By Our Reporter