Smart Cities & Buildings

Smart city Digital Transformation and Innovation

Ivan Reutener - Smart Mobility and Intelligent Transport Systems specialist at Royal HaskoningDHV

Can you tell me a bit about your background and your current role?

I always had a keen interest in technology, that is why I studied Engineering. At Royal HaskoningDHV my involvement in Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS) was expanded and integrated into my Leading Professional role. Foresight and Innovation is a passion for me, not a duty.

What more do you think needs to be done to promote the development of Smart Cities in African countries?

Africa has a blank canvas when it comes to Smart Cities and can incorporate the lessons learned from other continents. Key in driving Africa forward within the Smart City context is that Government and the Private sector must work together to establish relevant policies, that does not hamper innovation yet protect the public, understand the business case and enhancement that technology can bring (technology must work for us and increase our quality of life), and finally invest in the technology and stimulate the market.

What will be a successful smart city model for Africa in your opinion?

We as humans always was, and still is, curious about everything and love to explore, and therefore I will start with Transport within the smart city model. Electric Vehicles (EV) must replace the current Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) vehicles, as they have no tailpipe emissions and are less expensive when compared to total cost of ownership. This must also work hand-in-hand with the electricity and energy supply, with a focus on renewable energy, green energy. Parallel pillars, like health, economic, climate, education must also be incorporated and not neglected.

How shall African leaders change their “smart city policy toolkit”?

As mentioned earlier, key is for Government and Private sectors to work together. The first balancing act will be to support and stimulate the technological market and products. That can include incentive schemes, tax reductions and so forth. Once the marker has been stimulated and local production increase, the policies must be revisited to cater for the next phase.

What is the continent`s advantages for the development and implementation of successful smart city models and projects?

The continent’s leaders and subject matter experts must engage with other continent’s leaders and experts and learn from their lessons. However, they must not try and take something “off the shelf” as-is, and think it will work for Africa. The requirements must be adapted for the local requirements and application purposes.

How do you foresee the Smart cities in Africa in the next 5 years?

We need to act fast and not play the “wait and see” game, or Africa will be left behind. As an example, most northern hemisphere countries aim is to have, within the next 5 years (2025-2030), that most of their vehicles be EVs. Africa will then become the dumping ground for old, secondhand combustion engine vehicles. We need to invest and upgrade our industries to cater for the new market, build our own batteries, upskill our vehicle mechanics to become EV experts, etc.

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