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African Smart Cities Get Boost From Inmarsat, Tillman, and Smart Africa Initiative Agreement

From left to right, Peter Hadinger, CTO, Inmarsat; Dr Hamadoun Toure Executive Director of Smart Africa secretariat; Dr Greg Curtin, CEO Civic Connect, and Minister of ICT Rwanda. Photograph courtesy of Inmarsat.

Inmarsat, a leading provider of global mobile satellite communications, announced on 9 May 2018 that it, in conjunction with Tillman Digital Cities and CivicConnect, has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Smart Africa secretariat to accelerate the development and implementation of public-private partnerships (PPP) with the Smart Africa Alliance.

The Smart Africa Alliance is a partnership bringing together 22 African countries committed to the Smart Africa Manifesto and is supported by regional and global bodies including the African Union, the International Telecommunication Union, World Bank, and the African Development Bank. Inmarsat was the first commercial company to join the alliance, becoming a platinum member in 2016.

The MoU provides a framework of cooperation for all future negotiations for smart cities projects in the continent, and the consortium members bring a significant amount of experience to the PPP meaning that they are uniquely positioned to drive the initiative forward.

Inmarsat has taken a leading role in supporting the objectives of Smart Africa and in May 2017, the company kicked off a 12-month smart city proof of concept in the Rwandan capital of Kigali. The initiative supports a range of different Internet of Things (IoT) solutions linked by a LoRaWAN network. The flagship project provides a blueprint for smart city projects that can be deployed throughout Africa.

Tillman has significant experience in the financing, development, and operation of national-scale infrastructure programmes, and has led the buildout of much of the current mobile telecommunications infrastructure across Africa.  “Tillman looks forward to extending its presence throughout the continent, to the benefit of all citizens, via the Smart Africa PPP”, said Sanjiv Ahuja, Chairman of Tillman.

CivicConnect, meanwhile, specialises in platforms for the aggregation, management, and dissemination of data, serving as the connectivity tissue for smart city infrastructure. Leveraging real-time data, the company enables citizens, governments and businesses to better engage with their city assets and the environment.

Commenting on the agreement, Rupert Pearce, CEO of Inmarsat, said, “Inmarsat is absolutely committed to the Smart Africa Alliance and this agreement signifies an important step towards accelerating the roll-out of smart cities across the continent. The smart city project we have been engaged with in Kigali offers a glimpse of what IoT and other next generation technologies can offer the African continent. The lessons we have learnt during the pilot will be invaluable as we, in conjunction with Tillman, CivicConnect and African governments, forge a path towards a more connected and digitally-enabled Africa.”

Dr Hamadoun Touré, Executive Director at Smart Africa, commented, “This Memorandum of Understanding toward a public private partnership between Smart Africa and the Consortium represents a significant step forward for our programme. For the Consortium it opens the door to the 22 markets of the member countries of the Smart Africa alliance. The members of the Consortium have a proven track record in delivering and supporting smart technologies and we look forward to working closely with them towards a more sustainable and productive future.”

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