ABUJA, Nigeria is set to hold a smart cities summit next month as part of efforts by the Federal Government to develop the information communication technology (ICT) sector in the country, says Communications Minister Adebayo Shittu.

In an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) held on the sideline of the Transform Africa Summit held in Kigali, Rwanda, last week, he disclosed that the idea was to replicate the unparalleled ICT transformation of Rwanda in Nigeria. The Smart Cities Nigeria 2017 Summit is scheduled to take place on June 28 and 29.

A smart city is an urban development vision to integrate ICT and Internet of Things (IoT) technology in a secure fashion to manage a city’s assets The initiative aims at leveraging technology solutions to improve the efficiency of cities.

Rwanda, which is spearheading the initiative in Africa, has rolled out a number of developments such as WiFi in public areas, including public transport vehicles, as well as cashless payment systems for public transport. Currently, the initiative is backed by 18 African countries while more nations, including Nigeria, are expected to join.

Shittu said Nigeria was starting late but moving ahead steadily. I will say that we have some delays within the government operations we ought to have unleashed some of these ideas in the Nigerian scene more than eight months ago. In consonance with our desire to pursue all initiatives in the ICT transformation including smart cities, we have planned a summit,” he said.

The summit, with the theme “Smart Cities Nigeria 2017″ fixed for 28 and 29 of June, this year, is with a view to getting the buy-in of stakeholders in the Nigeria projects. From that point we will kick off and there would not be any stoppage.”

Shittu said the smart cities project would provide the opportunity to get a buy in of all stakeholders in the Nigerian project.

To transform Nigeria using ICT we need the buy-in of all states that must get it right from the onset that ICT is the way to go. Of course we would demand the patriotic participation of all states, he said.

He also said that the government was seeking foreign investments into the country’s ICT sectors to fast-track the digital transformation agenda in the country. I have had the privilege of speaking with a lot of foreign investors persuading them to come to Nigeria because Nigeria offers a lot of advantage in terms of the huge population,” he added.

On the West African sector of the African continent, Nigeria’s population is more than that of the other 14 countries. That means that there is a huge market and any investor who comes will never regret.”