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VP of Japanese tech firm believes Africa is not ready for ‘smart cities’

A leading technology expert based in the African region believes the topic of 'smart cities' is not 'relevant' in Africa. Chad Baker, who is the VP of Sales in Africa for Japanese company NEC made the admission during a recent interview at MWC. According to Baker he feels that Africa should revisit and explore the 'smart cities' objective in five years - citing that infrastructural, regulatory and attitudinal hurdles currently prohibit the region from being in a position to implement and develop smart city initiatives in the continent.

In addition to this, the VP at NEC said that even mature, stable and flourishing African economies where 'smart cities' could be 'relevant' would still encounter huge difficulties in initiating the smart city transformation. He conceded that Africa must not be cut adrift from technological development - and must continue to embrace technology advancements. However, while 'smart cities' is a requirement desperately needed in Africa to keep the region part of the global community that would be connected to the Internet of Things via cloud services - Baker says it will take hugely significant investments by both the African government and the private sector.

He said, "Currently, Africa has unique challenges that modern technology can help to address quickly in order to position it for smart cities and these include security and power among other. Power is everything - without reliable power technology is of no relevance to societies. Africa has a number of issues preventing it from adopting 'smart city' initiatives at the moment. Some of these range from the infrastructure, regulations and attitudinal hurdles - the topic of 'smart cities' is hot right now, but pitting it bluntly, it's not relevant for Africa now, and won't be for a number of years."

Baker also claimed that Japan provides a lot of grants that enables its NEC experts to take up jobs in African countries in the area of security and cyber security. He added, "We provide solutions in the area of intimate cameras, cyber security and facial recognition - so for countries like Mali, Nigeria, Kenya and others where terrorist groups exist our facial  NEC's facial recognition system helps to easily detect and arrest them easily."