DURBAN SCOOPS R5M SMARTER CITY GRANT
By: Gift Nyamapfene
Durban won a R5m International Business Machines (IBM) Smarter City Challenge grant Tuesday.
IBM’s three-year-old Smarter City initiative seeks to address issues ranging from clean water, healthy food, revenue generation, job development, efficient transportation, and public safety.
Under the grant programme, teams of IBM’s experts will engage select cities and regions worldwide to provide free consulting expertise on these issues.
Municipal spokesperson, Thabo Mofokeng said that eThekwini Municipality would utilize the grant on studies for boosting economic development.
Durban is one of three African Cities among Nigeria’s Abuja and Kenya’s Mombasa to receive the smarter city grant and one of only 16 cities around the world to qualify and receive the highly prized three-week engagement.
Mayor James Nxumalo said, “The eThekwini Municipality is looking forward to working with the team of executives from IBM, exploring ways to improve the city’s skills base and increase economic opportunities in the city.”
IBM teams will invest months studying ways of boosting economic development in eThekwini municipality this year. Afterwards, they will spend three weeks on the ground in the city gathering and analyzing all relevant data, while meeting in person with members of the government, citizens, business, and non-profit communities.
In doing so, they will gather diverse perspectives about the causes and potential solutions to the challenge at hand. At the conclusion of these studies, IBM will present comprehensive recommendations for economic development and job creation plan for the city. A more detailed roadmap and written plan for implementation will then be tabled weeks later.
Experts will also share lessons learnt in other cities that have successfully packaged developmental programmes and projects in achieving the smarter city status.
Jennifer Crozier, IBM’s vice president of Global Citizenship Initiatives said, “By collaborating with our experts, local governments will be receiving valuable counsel that could very well influence the success of issues that are foremost on the local agenda. We hope to be a useful resource to the winning cities and regions and be a catalyst for progress.”