How Eko Innovation Centre, Lagos Rekindle Hope For Data Driven Smart City At AOT Lagos 2.0

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L-R: Babajide Sanwo-Olu, governor, Lagos State and Victor Gbenga Afolabi, Curator of Art of Technology Lagos and Founder of Eko Innovation Centre.

In today’s world the importance of data and technology for brands and the society at large cannot be overemphasized as deployment of artificial intelligence, artificial realities and many others play a key role in the society.

Many advanced countries are well known for their data management and usage of technology to make every of their operations from governance to business seamless.

Achieving a smart city has been the dream of many African countries in order to meet up with the rest of the world. Nigeria has also been yielding to get data management right amidst various challenges that still exist; however, Lagos State, the commercial nerve-centre of the nation’s economy is making a difference with its various initiatives that it is partnering with the Eko Innovation Centre, a leading innovation hub in the country.

This year, the Lagos State Government (LASG) through the Office of Innovation and Technology organized the second edition of Art of Technology (AOT) Lagos 2.0. curated by Eko Innovation Centre, the two-day conference brought together the best of tech minds from across the globe physically and virtually on the 3rd and 4th of December 2020 which is in line with its SMART City agenda of making Lagos a 21st century economy.

The event was themed ‘Smart Data, Smarter Lagos,’ and the conversation centred on the fundamental role data plays in connecting the city with its citizens and how data can be collected, collated, analysed and deployed for governance, commerce and development. The event had the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo; the Lagos Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu; Commissioners and others stakeholders in the private and public sector gathered.

According to the Curator of Art of Technology Lagos and Founder of Eko Innovation Centre, Mr. Victor Gbenga Afolabi, the two-day summit was building on the success of the maiden edition which held in 2019  which recorded over 2,000 participants in attendance. He noted that last year, one of the key successes was the launch of the Lagos Innovation Masterplan which has continued to guide the Lagos State Government in achieving its Smart City agenda.

L-R: Babajide Sanwo-Olu, governor, Lagos State; Olatunbosun Alake, special adviser to the Lagos State governor on innovation technology and Victor Gbenga Afolabi, Curator of Art of Technology Lagos and and Founder of Eko Innovation Centre at the Art of Technology Lagos 2.0 and unveiling of “Startup Lagos” in Lagos recently.

Meanwhile, this year’s edition recorded another milestone with the launch of Startup Lagos, an initiative meant to empower Lagosians. Also, it recorded a milestone of more than 8,000 participants. The conference featured about 60 industry speakers, 50 investors and 35 experience centres.

Speaking on the choice of the theme, Advisory Board Member, Eko Innovation Centre, Doja Ekeruche said “The choice of the theme, ‘Smart Data, Smarter Lagos’ is because we understand the value of data, identifying and leveraging the outcome of data and its insights to develop the most populous city in Nigeria and indeed in Africa.

“The concept was to build and strengthen the capacity of stakeholders to actively participate in the development of Lagos into a smart city and then chart a vision for the next phase of development in order to cement Lagos as Africa’s key tech hub.

“We do understand that data is the bedrock to accurately plan for every single segment of the city including electricity, security, transport, healthcare, education, even the creation of jobs. All aspect of our living requires the use of data and today, the data exists but it has not been gathered, curated and analysed in a way that it delivers insights to enable decision-making that will transform the city.

 “I think the most important thing is that the discussions we have had in the last two days, we are confident that we have raised again the importance of gathering of data to indeed to drive or enhance the potential of our demography and discover the potential of the city,” she stated.

Meanwhile, the Vice President, Yemi Osibanjo speaking at the event, said this administration is working harder to make Nigeria a smart country noting that human creativity and ingenuities are major assets needed to make the society a smart place.

He maintained that President Buhari’s administration would continue to pursue its digital and technology agenda to keep the country at pace with the rest of the world. ” Data is everything. We are gathering economic data, demographic Data and other Data coupled with our resourcefulness to manage over two million people. So, we must leverage technology and data for better plans, policy design and decisions making. Smart data makes smart governance,” he stressed.

Similarly, the Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu on his part restated its commitment to make the state a smart city by digitalizing its operations which is in line with his THEMES agenda.

L-R: Babajide Sanwo-Olu, governor, Lagos State; Olatunbosun Alake, special adviser to the Lagos State governor on innovation technology; Victor Gbenga Afolabi, Curator of Art of Technology Lagos and Founder of Eko Innovation Centre and Demola Shogunle, chief executive, Stanbic IBTC Holdings at the Art of Technology Lagos 2.0 and unveiling of “Startup Lagos” in Lagos recently.

According to him, his administration is committed to give entrepreneurs in the ICT sector to explore opportunities the state is offering as the proposed plan to create a Technology Hub in Yaba where Startup and other technologists can secure a space and do their businesses are in the pipeline.

Sanwo-Olu stressed that Lagos State is initiating a “Unified Communication first Respondent” where LASMA and other security agencies can communicate with one another for security and safety purpose. “There are so many plans in the pipeline, We are deploying 2,000 cameras in Lagos for security, intelligence gathering, traffic management to track criminals, this shall be in full operation by first quarter of 2021 because we want to make Lagos a resilient and safe city.

He affirmed that the state is leaving no stone unturned to give residents sound governance, this he said, can be possible through data gathering, thus, the state has proposed to capture four million Lagosians to serve the people better. He said, “We need to know ourselves, so with data obtained from Lagos State Residents Registration Agency (LASRRA) and other agencies, we shall be able to plan well, take informed decisions and make better policies.

He added that his administration is putting validators in place in BRT, rail way and water transport system through Lagos connect card as an integrated transport system to give Lagosians better transport experience.

He added that education sector is not left out as Eko Excel Potent initiative is ongoing in primary schools where teachers are given mobile Tablets and training for them to work efficiently and effectively while Lagos State Science Research and Innovation Council (LSSRIC) is in place to promote research and development in the state.

“All these efforts are geared towards making Lagos a smarter city in every sector of our economy in line with our economic agenda of THEMES. We are deploying 6,000 kilometers fiber boxes in every nook and cranny of the state. We are working with Discos to ensure that power is stable in the state because, we can’t operate without power supply,” he asserted.

The experts at the event proffered various solutions to achieve a data- driven smart city, Dr Demola Sogunle, Chief Executive, Stanbic IBTC, when he spoke on the topic “Solving Africa’s digital payment challenges: The data Infrastructure”  recommended that partnerships should be embarked upon between the government and private sectors to deliver the required payment infrastructure.

Also, he advised that digitize common transactions be put in place. He stated that identifying and deploying a fit-for-purpose payments infrastructure for the transport sector will significantly improve adoption of digital payments and drive financial inclusion.

In the same vein, he called for the incentivize use of digital channels for transactions. “Consider providing incentives such as cash back and discounts to encourage the use of digital channels.”

He also called for investment in infrastructure, “Use of self service stalls, wifi coverage offerings for transactions, etc towards driving more people to adopt digital payments. Drive development of robust IT connectivity.”

Lastly, he called for inclusion of IT and financial literacy programs to the educational curriculum and also collaborates with financial institutions to track and prosecute fraudsters and provides a framework for re-imbursing victims to improve confidence in digital.

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