If the promise of the Lagos State government is anything to go by, the year 2020, which started running today, holds greater promises for the over 21 million residents. The Babajide Sanwo Olu-led Lagos government is hoping to reposition the state to further make it more habitable for the people, and drive investments. According to the state, areas of focus will include security, transportation, education, road networks, smart city, cybersecurity, traffic management, among others.
To shape this new focus, the state will rely heavily on information and communications technology (ICT). Putting it in the words of the Special Adviser to Governor SanwoOlu on Innovation and Technology, Tubosun Alake, “at the centre of this new focus is technology.” Alake said the state has come to realise that nothing can be achieved without the deployment of modern technology.
Speaking with selected media organisations, including The Guardian, Alake said technology is the pillar of all the plans of the governor. He said the deployment of technology has become critical in order to maximize the potential of the state.
Going forward, he said the state wants to bridge the gap between government and the innovation ecosystem. This, according to him, came from the discovery of the fact that there are several young people, who are tech-oriented, spotted in some areas including Yaba, where startups are nurtured.
According to him, it is not enough for the government to be innovative; it must be seen supporting innovation. He said the governor wants to support the innovation sector and make it the next big industry in the state. Alake said the state has four major pillars of innovation, which are access, infrastructure, funding and talents, which are broad areas for empowerment.
As part of the drive, he disclosed that the state has started the Open Government Initiative. “If you go to developed climes, government data is queryable. You can get data to know what exactly that government is doing. Hiding data, which is peculiar in Africa, has not encouraged development. So, we believe that the Open Government Initiative will provide the platform, where people can go and query government data. The initiative can also help developers to know the kind of solution that will help in resolving some of the state’s challenges. For instance, traffic management and the rest can be adequately looked into. We believe access to data would help the development of the state.”
Deployment of fibre optic cable
In the area of infrastructure, Alake informed of the metro-fibre project coming up in the state. He said the state is deploying 3000km fibre optic cable across the city. To facilitate this project, he said the state will provide ducts infrastructure, targeted at reducing the cost of deployment for fibre operators. He disclosed that the government won’t take over the fibre-market, “no, we are reducing the cost for other operators to bring in their infrastructure. This is because the state needs more than what it can provide. So, the private sector must be empowered to be able to get to the market faster.”
The Special Adviser said in the second phase, another 3000km fibre-optic cable with ducts will be deployed, especially in the hinterland, which is expected to trigger new growth. According to him, Lagos wants to stop indiscriminate digging of the state roads because of the infrastructure. “This is why I told you that the first 3000km of fiber optic cables, will come with a dig one strategy. So, the plan is to have ducts, the tunnels the cables can enter. This will be in place so that other telecoms companies will not have to dig again, they will just plug in their wires through the ducts, so there will be a minimal disturbance of the roads.
New GIS mapping and drone deployment
The Special Adviser said while some parts of Lagos have been mapped, some have not, and have gotten new infrastructure, which has not been captured adequately. According to him, development is a continuum. He said the old map did not reflect the new structures, parcels of land, and the rest, “but the new mapping is to get the current status of the state. The mapping is starting in the first quarter of 2020, between January and March. We have already trained drone pilots. They are on standby.”
He explained that the state will deploy drones for the Geographic Information System (GIS) project, which will help in mapping the entire landscape of the state. According to him, the mapping became necessary because land administration is a very critical issue in the development of the state. He said the mapping makes land administration much easier and efficient.
On other critical sectors, Alake said the mapping will also be useful in health service delivery. “For instance, should there be an epidemic, the particular area can be mapped out, quarantined and treatment is provided. Also, it can help in emergency services, should the police have access to mapped data, it will facilitate their operations.”