Leaders Debate Nairobi’s Course to Becoming a Smarter City

IBM hosts roundtable discussion to address some of Nairobi’s biggest urban challenges

NAIROBI, Kenya - 06 Oct 2011: Leaders from across public and private sector and civil society organizations came together in Nairobi today to discuss how advanced technologies can help the city to deal with some of the most pressing issues of urbanization – such as traffic congestion, parking, emergency response and the reliability of energy and water supplies.

The Nairobi Smarter Cities Roundtable, organized by IBM, is one of the first gatherings of its kind in Africa. Discussions focused on how private and public sectors can work together to lay the foundations for transforming Nairobi into a smarter and more efficient city.  

Tony Mwai, CGM IBM East Africa

Tony Mwai, CGM IBM East Africa and other leaders from public and private sector at the Nairobi Smarter Cities Roundtable.

Nairobi’s Growing Urban Challenges

As Nairobi continues to attract new inhabitants and investors alike, it is set to see its population double over the next decade bringing with it a wide range of challenges in key areas such as transportation, utilities, safety and security and urban planning. 

 “With half of Kenyans set to be living in cities by 2030, the single biggest challenge facing Kenyan cities is how to manage and harmonize our city systems,” said Dr. Bitange Ndemo, Permanent Secretary, Ministry for Information and Communication. “Better functioning cities not only help to increase the standard of living for their citizens, but also increase their global competitiveness and support economic development.” 

According to Dr. Ndemo, while there are a number of innovative smarter city initiatives in Kenya at the moment like Konza and Tatu cities, the single largest urban challenge facing Kenya is Nairobi. “Addressing these challenges now is vital to supporting Nairobi’s development as an important African economic and business hub,” said Dr. Ndemo. 

“A city is basically a system of systems, and can benefit from the latest technologies and processes from other areas such as manufacturing, supply chain management and the service industries to ensure that things function and flow as they should do,” said Anthony Mwai, IBM Country General Manager for East Africa. “IBM has over 2,000 smarter city projects from the past two years to draw on and is keen to bring that experience to bear in Nairobi.” 

As an example, Mr. Mwai added that IBM is having early discussions with telecommunications companies in Nairobi about how mobile phone signal density could be used to pinpoint and predict traffic jams in the city and assist city authorities in re-directing traffic. 

The round table session was moderated by noted financial analyst Aly-Khan Satchu and was attended by high level policy makers and CEOs from a number of sectors including: Dr. Bitange Ndemo, Permanent Secretary for Information; Eddy Njoroge, Managing Director, KENGEN; Wolfgang Fengler, Chief Economist, World Bank; Steven Oundo, Architectural Society of Kenya; Christian Schlosser, Chief of Urban Transport Section, UN-Habitat, Lucas Ndolo, KK Security and local entrepreneur Esther Passaris. 

The final outcomes from the roundtable discussion will be shared with the wider public in a white paper and video film later this year. 

About IBM

For more information on IBM Smarter Cities, please visit: http://www.ibm.com/smarterplanet/us/en/smarter_cities/overview/index.html

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Tony Mwai, CGM IBM East Africa and other leaders from public and private sector at the Nairobi Smarter Cities Roundtable.

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