Algiers Smart City: Practical & Pragmatic
01 Jun 2018
Algeria has been working to diversify its economy, especially since the fall in global oil prices in 2014 led the authorities to reduce the role of hydrocarbons and develop other sectors. Industry, agriculture, tourism and ICT have been identified as priority areas to reach this target, and digitalisation and entrepreneurship are set to play a major role in their development strategies. “Building entrepreneurial ecosystems is core to the growth of any economy, and Algeria is positioning itself at the forefront of that movement in the MENA region,” Issa Aghabi, head of investments for MENA at the World Bank Group’s International Finance Corporation, said.
As more IT innovations come to market, the coun-try will have to adapt these models to make use of the latest developments and build an ecosystem to assimilate and exploit these technologies. This is expected to positively affect various sectors, includ-ing transport and logistics, financial services, indus-try and manufacturing, health, and customer service.
Collaborative and open-source tech-nology development models have become the norm, data-centric products are mainstream, and the cloud and internet era, coupled with global disruptive inno-vation, have led to rapid technological development over the last decade. Among these are blockchain for distributed data management, unlicensed wireless as a complement to internet connectivity, open-source artificial intelligence as a service, and various others.
Currently, technology is dominated by a few large players, such as Google, Amazon, Netflix and Uber, which all aim to continuously challenge their com-petitors in adjacent markets by rolling out alterna-tive technologies. It is this specific context – and the leapfrog technologies that emerge from it – that the developers of the Algiers Smart City are seeking to capitalise on. “The Algiers Smart City project is a demonstration of our commitment to develop our city based on the principles of durability, sustainability and innovation,” Fatiha Slimani, head of the Algiers Smart City project, said.
Algeria has already made significant progress in developing its ICT infrastructure, as highlighted by the large-scale fibre projects in recent years, as well as the launch of its first communications satellite at the end of 2017 and the commencement of construc-tion of high-capacity submarine cables that year.
However, the new and aggressive dynamic of the global tech industry transcends ICT infrastruc-ture, as exemplified by the rapid development of a robust start-up ecosystem in Algiers. While this only emerged fairly recently, it is undergoing a process of re-conception of incubators and early-stage ven-tures from a variety of sectors. It features projects such as the Algiers Experimental Laboratory and Innovation Hub, as well as technology development initiatives, mostly driven by bottom-up engineering and business approaches. The knock-on benefits of this undertaking are expected to be wide-reaching, with public services, energy, agriculture, transport and other sectors seeing technological innovations that improve productivity and performance.