WEST AFRICA: Swiss researchers prepare the digitization of 4 cities

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WEST AFRICA: Swiss researchers prepare the digitization of 4 cities © Agre guy thony roger/Shutterstock

From September 2024, a research group from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne will travel to Abidjan in Ivory Coast as part of the "Digital Solutions for the Sustainable City in West Africa" project. It aims in particular the development of teleworking, e-commerce and remote management of road traffic in four cities in the sub-region.

Abidjan in Ivory Coast, Bamako in Mali, Cotonou in Benin and Ouagadougou in Burkina Faso. These four cities could soon be digitized thanks to the “Digital Solutions for Sustainable Cities in West Africa” project led by the Excellence in Africa (EXAF) research center at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne.

The initiative, co-financed by the Swiss government’s Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA) and supported by the Ivorian Ministry of Construction, Housing and Urban Development, aims to develop strategies for the implementation of technologies that can improve the living environment of West African populations suffering from climatic hazards, particularly flooding and drought.

Thus, the Swiss researchers will carry out a first mission in six months in the Ivorian economic capital. It will allow an analysis of traffic data to improve the efficiency of transport, the use of a geographic information system (GIS) to improve the management of urban waste. “A mobile money application will allow people to use and pay for services such as electricity generated by a domestic solar system,” says the team led by Jérôme Chenal, a professor of urban planning at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne.

The development of smart cities

For his part, Ahmed Cissé, vice-president of the Confédération générale des entreprises de Côte d’Ivoire (CGECI), believes that the digitization of services would make it possible to avoid the daily displacement of at least 17 million people in this West African country and thus curb air pollution from the transport sector.

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In addition to West Africa, the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne in Switzerland is supporting the ecological transition of cities in North Africa, particularly in Morocco, where it recently launched a master’s degree on “smart city strategies”. Over two years, this training program, which will take place on the campus of the Mohamed VI Polytechnic University (UM6P) in Ben Guerir, located 257 kilometers from the capital Rabat, will equip learners on eight modules including connectivity and digital governance, as well as open data.

Benoit-Ivan Wansi

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