Smart City Dar: The Residence of Peace

Written by Basil Malaki

14642227_1116555208413731_9139834036342564472_nDar es Salaam, a city once referred to as ‘the residence of peace’ has lived upto the pomp and glamor of its identity since independence to date. In the vast East African region, the economic growth of Dar es Salaam city over the last decade is remarkably recognized as a regional and Pan-African fastest growing city.

‘The African Development Bank reports in Tracking Africa’s Progress in Figures that Dar es Salaam, Tanzania’s largest city and the country’s trading hub, will outpace all other African cities in growth between 2010 and 2025, followed by Nairobi, Kenya; Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo; Luanda, Angola; and Addis Ababa, Ethiopia’.

Source: africastrictlybusiness.com

Efforts invested towards making Dar es Salaam an outstanding African city are made possible by the government’s active involvement in the course of providing better services to its people in order to improve on the living standards of the people and to a debatable extent minimize rural – urban migration rates that encourage concentration of government services and facilities such as education, health and technology which disadvantages growth in rural communities.

Tanzanian leadership has been very strategic in planning the development of the country, the government through smart governance is keen on breaking the rural – urban migration chain by implementing the 1974 plan of relocating the capital of Tanzania after Dar es Salaam’s title as the nation’s capital was stripped and parliament moved to Dodoma city.

Now, Dar es Salaam could soon be the next big city in Africa, the emergence of the Smart City Dar movement could soon transform routine public and private service delivery protocols from the norm to more convenient options through the application of innovative technologies.

Therefore, what is a smart city?

To this moment, there still isn’t a universal definition for a smart city. When we asked a few attendees of the #Ideas4Dar event; what comes to mind at the mention of the word ‘smart city… We recorded the following views from our correspondents;

  • Shared resources
  • Simplicity and convenience
  • Ready availability of information

14720561_1117236441678941_5860338116935813748_nAt the forefront of the smart cities movement in Dar es Salaam is a group of talented and experienced young professionals with varied backgrounds of relevant professions that could drive Tanzanian cities to the next level.

At the recent #Ideas4Dar brainstorming event organized by Jumanne Mtambalike with an aim of attracting like minded change makers to share ideas on what a smart city Dar would look like; what needs to be done to make Dar a convenient city;  who should be involved? These issues among other key issues were discussed.

On the panel discussion seat of the #Ideas4Dar meetup event was Gillsaint Mlaseko C.E.O of Swahili Digital; who based his views on how social media can play a vital role in making Dar es Salaam smarter.

Maryam Mgonjah, Buni Hub – Events and Partnership lead also represented the undying voices, interests and contribution of ladies by detailing to what extent ladies can be involved in the process of making Dar es Salaam a smarter city?

From the artistic perspective of a smarter Dar es Salaam was Gadi Ramadhan, a distinguished art curator and a voice of reason for sense in the society, founder of Koko’Ten Gallery, he believes artistic impression of visual art materials could help in designing the smart city dar movement.

From the Agricultural point of view, Ahadi Katera; Guavay C.E.O also shared a wide array of thoughts from his perspective of what a smart city Dar could be; a unifying factor for people of all classes from the premium class to people at the bottom of the development pyramid on issues such as security, convenience, affordability among other factors.

14517346_1117523458316906_6545010522125713382_nWe also had a special Skype feature of Kingamkono Unu, during the event. Speaking from Eindhoven, Netherland; Unu also showcased the project he is working on ‘ROADATA – read as Raw Data’, teaching the city how to count and freely share accessible online data.

In exploring ways through which Dar es Salaam can be made a convenient city, the following ideas were shared by the team that attended the #Ideas4Dar event;

  • A rise of shared apartments could help provide better accommodation facilities and reduce the number of informal settlements in Dar es Salaam hence help better urban planning and in totality help decongest the city.
  • Digitizing public services could also help improve service delivery of public institutions; making them timely, more reliable and convenient.
  • Establishment of a data collection portal could also help the government make informed decisions that could influence better policies and make the governance process be based on facts, figures and numbers smarter.
  • Usage of visual arts could also help influence people’s perception of a smart city, art such as graffiti could be used as a medium of communication to help change people’s perception of the things that make a city smart.
  • Effective use of social media tools as communication mediums could also bridge the communication gap between citizens and local government authorities, this was identified as an effective way of connecting opinion shapers and decision makers in the community.
  • To further reinforce the need to decentralize government services, a smart city was also perceived as a city whose services are easily and widely accessible, its service are spread out in nearby centres and towns as an expansion strategy to make government services accessible across the country.
  • Establishment of bylaws for public resources vandalizer was also recommended since a smart city comes with smart technologies that are always at high risks of public theft and vandalism.
  • Introduction of organized settlement schemes was also recommended, this could be a joint initiative (public-private partnership) that could help in urban planning.
  • Formulation of regulatory policies for access of massive traffic to the central business district (CBD) could reduce motor traffic hence reduce congestion hence ease public transport systems to and from the city centre, this could be made possible by the introduction of alternative modes of transport such as rail transport, the recent DART transport system that has greatly revolutionized public transportation in Dar es Salaam.

14716339_1117523451650240_505634457407825756_nThe smart city Dar movement is strongly supported by Hatua Project, a Making All Voices Count initiative that promotes ‘smart governance’, Hatua Project through its various components is potentially one of the greatest present contributors to the Smart City Dar movement, a very vibrant and meaningful initiative to the future of a smarter Dar es Salaam.

“SMART Governance” is about the future of public services, it’s about greater efficiency, community leadership, mobile working and continuous improvement through innovation. SMART Governance is about using technology to facilitate and support better planning and decision making. It is about improving democratic processes and transforming the ways that public services are delivered. It includes e-government, the efficiency agenda and mobile working.”

Source: Smart Governance Network

According to your understanding of a Smart Dar es Salaam.

What should be done differently to make Dar es Salaam a convenient city?

Kindly share with us your views via our twitter handle: @smartcitydar, #SmartCityDar