MasterCard, Business Leaders Set to Transform Nigeria’s Cities

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Emma Okonji

With half of Nigeria’s population currently living in cities, MasterCard, in collaboration with some Nigerian business leaders, has stressed the need for government to put development framework in place to ensure future growth and sustainability.

This was a key message highlighted at the Mastercard CEO Conversations Dinner held recently, with focus on ‘Developing Nigeria’s Smart Cities through Technology Transformation’.

A renowned economist, Bismarck Rewane, led discussions with MasterCard President and CEO, Ajay Banga. Rewane reinforced the point that 60 per cent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is generated by those living in cities.

Leaders in businesses attended and joined the discussion with Banga and Rewane. Others were financial institution and telecoms CEOs and other business leaders, who gathered for an evening to discuss the country’s continued growth, and the increasingly important role of the private sector. The question of the evening was, how do smart cities deliver economic growth and resilience.

“Smart cities leverage technology with open standards and platforms to drive scale in order to deliver economic growth and efficiency. In Nigeria, technology is helping citizens connect to services that help them lead better and easier lives. Mobile is playing an important role, and more Nigerian’s have access to the internet via their smartphones, with current estimates stating that over 97 million users have access.

As cities such as Lagos develop, the technology and other innovations are expected to help serve the growing demands from consumers and businesses. By 2035 close to 30 million people are likely to live in Lagos, making it the largest megacity on the continent,” discussants said.

Discussion focused on the importance of partnerships as part of the cities strategy. It was highlighted that the need for cross functional support is required with further focus on gathering knowledge from global organisations to share best practices and knowledge. The importance of transparency and ease of doing business was also tabled, and with Nigeria recently securing a stronger rating, the country is on the right track to reinforcing its position as an economic powerhouse.