Joint Press Release
Seoul & Abuja, Feburary 25, 2021
Abuja became the newest Regional Office (RO) for Africa of the World Smart Sustainable Cities Organization (WeGO) on Thursday, February 24 as the virtual opening ceremony took place at the occasion of the 2021 WeGO Activities Kickoff Event. Over 100 members, partners, and stakeholders from 31 countries gathered online to watch WeGO’s first event of the year, which included presentations on WeGO’s 2021 activities and a workshop to discuss smart city challenges and solutions in each of WeGO’s regions.
High-level representatives from WeGO and Abuja expressed their joy over this milestone event, with WeGO’s Secretary General Kyong-yul Lee congratulating Nigeria’s capital city, adding, “Nigeria has the vision to lead the world movement for smart cities and I hope Abuja takes a leadership role to spearhead WeGO’s vision in Africa.” Abdullahi Adamu Candido, Abuja Municipal Area Council (AMAC)’s Executive Chairman announced that through the new RO, Abuja is committed to ensuring that cities are resilient “to shocks such as the current pandemic, but also to the growing complex demands from urban housing, food security, public safety transportation, to mention a few, and to achieve the SDGs.”
The final remarks were from the Director General of the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Mr. Kashifu Inuwa Abdullahi, noting that, “with the regional office, it is our collective aspiration to build an effective network of digital transformation champions across the continent of Africa.” NITDA is a principal partner of AMAC and a member of WeGO since 2015.
The Director of the new RO, Ms. Abiodun Essiet, Special Adviser to the Chairman of AMAC on ICT/Donor Agencies and Civil Society, closed the ceremony with a presentation on the RO’s plans. The Abuja RO will build on existing and new partnerships within and beyond Africa to increase opportunities for knowledge sharing among local governments and their collaborators. With six of the world’s 41 megacities projected to be in Africa by 2030, the RO also aims to work towards the enhancement the quality of services provided by local governments in Africa, improve digital inclusion and promote digital economic opportunities for city residents, especially among the youths and women.
The decision by AMAC to bid to become a WeGO RO demonstrates the city’s will to transform into an efficient and effective government that fosters technology-driven economic growth to alleviate economic and social challenges to achieve the UN SDGs.
With its unique story as a successful case of a purpose-built capital and strategic location on the African continent, Abuja is the ideal location for expanding smart city development in the region. Abuja is also the host of notable regional and international institutions such as the Economic Communities of West African States (ECOWAS), the African Development Bank (AfDB), and the World Bank.
AMAC’s smart city vision is driven by public private partnership models etched to enable shared opportunities and risks. As a result, it has partnered with two civic innovation organizations namely Digizens Collaborative and Ventures Platform to support the actualization of its smart city vision and strategy. It also receives support from Nigeria National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), A government ICT regulator in Nigeria. With WeGO opening up membership to organizations and Agencies, NITDA and Digizens in a bid to foster smart city development in cities, are registered members of WeGO.
Member of WeGO since December 2019, Abuja was selected as the host of WeGO’s fifth regional office after a bidding process and received approval at the Online Executive Committee (EXCOM) Meeting 2020 on November 17 last year.
The opening of the Africa RO follows the opening of the Latin American Regional Office in Mexico City in November 2018. WeGO has four other regional offices that cover East Asia, Eurasia, the Mediterranean, and Latin America. These offices function as an extension to WeGO’s reach globally as they support the work of the Secretariat by assisting in the implementation of activities and the recruitment and support of members in their regions.
Abuja Municipal Area Council is a local government in the Federal Capital Territory of Nigeria. It is a statutory body established by law and having the power to raise revenue through taxes for the performance of local services such as sanitation, education, water supply, etc. It is the lowest tier of government. Precisely, it is constituted by the elected representatives of the local people, which enjoy autonomy from state or central control sufficient to enable it to perform its services adequately. It is a government by the popularly elected bodies charged with administrative and executive duties in matters concerning the inhabitants of a particular area or council as it’s commonly called. It has clearly defined smart city objectives in line with national and global goals. It was created in October 1984 and has as its Chairman, Hon. Abdullahi Adamu Candido.
Established in 2010, WeGO is an international association of 210 city and other local governments, smart tech solution providers, and national and regional institutions committed to the worldwide transformation of cities into smart sustainable cities. With a vision of “Smart Sustainable Cities for All,” the organization works toward the realization of innovative cities that leverage digital technology and connectivity to improve quality of life, efficiency of urban operation and services, and economic prosperity for all citizens, while ensuring long-term economic, social, and environmental sustainability. WeGO’s Secretariat is based in Seoul, and is supported by regional offices in East Asia (Chengdu, China), Eurasia (Ulyanovsk Region, Russia), the Mediterranean (Beyoğlu, Turkey), and Latin America (Mexico City, Mexico).