April 11, 2013
/PRNewswire/ -- IBM (NYSE:
) today announced the launch of a report entitled "
A Vision for Smarter Growth: an IBM Smarter Cities Report on Accra, Ghana
" that highlights how the rapidly emerging West African city should turn to technology to transform its key urban systems. Based on the opinions of local experts from across public and private sectors and civil society, the report identifies
city services, transportation,
as essential for
's urban reform.
According to the International Monetary Fund,
is one of the fastest growing economies in the world, driven by an emerging oil and gas industry, a growing base of consumers and significant foreign investment. Its capital,
, is one of
's fastest emerging cities. According to Mastercard's African Cities Growth Index,
's top city in terms of economic potential over the next five years.
has also experienced significant demographic growth, the city's population expanding by over 1 million people – a 35 percent increase in the past decade, placing increasing strain on the city's resources.
"As Ghana's capital,
is emerging as one of
's economic success stories," said Alfred Vanderpujie, Mayor of
. "But such growth is not sustainable in the long term if we do not act now to put in place the systems and processes of the future. Technology is clearly one of the fundamental building blocks for creating a smarter and better functioning
The publication of the IBM report follows the launch of the
government's National Urban Policy Framework and Action Plan, which is aimed at improving infrastructure and raising revenue in
's cities to reduce poverty and tackle urban growth challenges.
are facing the dual challenge of rapid urban and economic growth," said
, Country General Manager of IBM Ghana. "IBM's approach is to enter a dialogue with key stakeholders and experts on the ground to understand the challenges and explore where technology can be successfully applied to transform the systems on which our cities depend. The scale of
and its challenges creates a manageable environment for implementing smarter systems that could really improve lives and business."
Transforming City Services
Rising numbers of residents place increased strain on existing resources and require more effective delivery of city services such as water, sanitation, refuse, public safety, education and healthcare. The Government of
sees improved revenue collection as key to
's transformation and its ability to fund investment across all of the city's systems – a key part of the country's Urban Policy Framework and Action Plan:
"We estimate that
loses up to 50 percent of its current revenues to fraud or underpayment by residents," said
, Metro Director of Budget, Accra Metropolitan Assembly. "Revenue generation is key to improving city services in
. Quite simply, if we don't raise enough revenue, we are not able to perform our functions and produce enough services for people in the city."
The IBM report highlights how mobile payment systems could help make the process of paying taxes easier for
's residents in the future. Hosting city services in the cloud would translate to more transparent and cost-effective municipal service delivery and an online platform for cataloguing property values could lead to a substantial increase in property tax revenues. Big Data analytics could help city authorities more easily identify cases of tax under payment or fraud.
The Transportation Headache
Like all African cities which are currently experiencing rapid rates of urbanization, transportation is one of
's key challenges with growing numbers of citizens and vehicles placing increasing pressure on the city's road networks. With 90 percent of all transport in
by road, traffic jams have a negative effect on many other areas such as business, emergency response, the environment, education and healthcare.
The IBM report lists a number of areas where technology can help. While the long-term goal should be the construction of a modern mass public transit system, instrumented, interconnected and intelligent technologies can help in the meantime to form the basis of a smarter transportation system. Smart and networked traffic lights could help to ease the flow of traffic through the city. Cameras and social media technologies could help monitor the road network and provide intelligence to decision makers. By using Big Data technologies to analyze mobile phone data, city officials could gain a clearer view of how people move around within the city and how the existing transportation systems could be enhanced.