Kigali emerged as Africa’s premier smart city among the 30 cities featured in the 2023 African Smart City Index, a pioneering initiative designed to gauge the integration of digital infrastructure, sustainability measures, and innovative urban solutions in Africa’s rapidly evolving urban centers.
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The index unveiled on Wednesday, September 6, during the Africa Smart City Investment Summit held, in Kigali, focuses on the key categories most relevant to developing a sustainable and inclusive future for growing African cities.
After Kigali, Tunis, the capital of Tunisia, secured the second spot, while Nairobi, Kenya, clinched the third position as a smart city.
Cape Town in South Africa and Accra in Ghana secured the fourth and fifth positions, respectively.
Kigali’s smartness is an ongoing process – Mayor
Prudence Rubingisa, the Mayor of Kigali, told The New Times that: “Winning the Smart City Award fills us with immense excitement. Our plan is clear: Kigali’s smartness is an ongoing process.
“We will keep investing in Information Technology for efficiency, resiliency, and citizen-centric services while prioritizing sustainability to make Kigali a model of environmentally friendly urban living.”
Among others, the city master plan envisions Kigali becoming a green city with green public spaces.
A British architectural design firm was selected to develop the green city Kigali master plan and detailed designs for the pilot phase. The Kigali Green City project, the first of its kind in Africa, initially estimated to cost $5 billion, aims to provide green and affordable housing in the Kinyinya neighborhood of Kigali and serve as a model for sustainable urban development, connecting affordable housing with climate change adaptation and mitigation measures.
Visionary leadership, dedicated citizens
Among others, Rubingisa said, inclusivity will be “among our guiding principles, ensuring that every citizen benefits from our achievements.”
“We would like to express sincere gratitude to our visionary leadership, dedicated citizens, and committed stakeholders for making this commitment possible.”
During the Summit on Wednesday, top-performing cities awards were presented to the cities that performed best in the African Smart City Index Research Categories.
The Green City Kigali Project is prioritising sustainable urban planning, green infrastructure, and eco-friendly technologies.
It aims to enhance livability through efficient public transportation renewable energy integration, and green building practices, focused on reducing carbon emissions.
The five categories of the Smart City Index are related to what research has said are the most pressing issues to address when developing smart cities in an African context. The categories were further split into general indicators and these were followed by granular sub-indicators. The performance score in these indicators informed the overall ranking in each category.
Kigali won the e-Governance Excellence Prize but it also emerged the best among the top three winners that performed the best in the culmination of the five categories.
Under the governance and strategy (e-governance excellence) category, it is noted that the implementation of technology into government services will undoubtedly increase the efficiency of the services provided. In the index, researchers looked to assess the accessibility of government information, the political will to reduce the digital divide, and the implementation of technology into national identification and government services as a whole. One of the key advantages of smart governance technology, it is noted, is its ability to improve efficiency.
The main indicators measured were the presence of smart city policy and master plans; digital access to municipal services; and ease of access to government files and public data.
Rwanda is well known for its Irembo service which has revolutionized the government’s service delivery. Boasting 103 online services, the government has announced a further 400 services to be rolled into the platform by June 2024.
Among others, services in Rwanda were re-engineered to optimize the business processes for efficient service delivery and citizen satisfaction.
Public institutions reduced lengthy, bureaucratic, and unnecessary workflows within their services and delivered services through Irembo. Paper is maintained only when no electronic service alternative is available.
Among others, Kigali has launched The Blue Room, an operations control center that aggregates data in real-time from health clinics across the country.
The project covers operations and finance data enabling real-time support of clinics expanding the country’s ability to deal with healthcare crises.