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Planet Smart City, UN-Habitat join forces to upgrade slums in Kenya

Planet Smart City and the United Nations’ Human Settlements Program, UN-Habitat, have announced their collaboration to offer the residents of two of Nairobi, Kenya’s oldest and largest slums better lives.

As part of UN Habitat’s Participatory Slum Upgrading Program (PSUP), the smart affordable housing specialist, Planet Smart City, plans to leverage emerging tech, community engagement and data analytics to upgrade the areas of Kibera and Mathare.

The PSUP initiative was inaugurated in 2008 and has included the African Caribbean and Pacific group of States Secretariat, the European Commission and UN-Habitat. The partnership has been working towards achieving the Sustainable Development Agenda. They plan to ensure that by 2030, the slums be given access to adequate, safe and affordable housing along with basic services.

Kerstin Sommer, manager of the UN-Habitat PSUP, stated, “With the COVID-19 momentum, we all need to play a part for a bigger mission to improve the living conditions of the most vulnerable in our cities. That won’t work without the contribution of the private sector.”

They plan to leverage the vast experience of the PSUP in slum upgrading and the private sector to ensure the success of this project.

Indeed, at the very core of the initiative, Planet Smart City’s proprietary Planet App, will serve as a digital hub to enhance community engagement. This app will enable slum residents to access news, a variety of services, information on how to protect themselves against diseases and to borrow shared tools and equipment.

The app will further local coordination to help residents enhance their community experience, to better their educational systems and to just make a solid difference overall. It will support local entrepreneurship and act as a platform for residents to promote their services within their communities and to even broaden their horizons in terms of training opportunities. This will be done to ensure greater financial independence in the long-run.

The PSUP will tailor the app and use data analytics to ensure better coordination.

Alan Marcus, chief digital strategy officer at Planet Smart City, said, “Africa is in the midst of one of the world’s most exciting technological metamorphoses, with Kenya right at the heart. The country is already the world leader for mobile money penetration, and connection to mobile services has surged from 30 percent of the population in 2009 to over 50 percent last year. The forces of innovation that are transforming the lives in both Kenya and across the continent can be harnessed to empower the people of African nations.”

“Slum communities are tight-knit, resourceful and brimming with potential – if we give them the tools, these communities can be the catalysts for real and long-term transformation,” he added.