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Better connectivity, cloud skills could fast-track SA smart city development, according to AWS

Johannesburg, 04 Oct 2021

Connectivity, public policy and cloud skills are among the key challenges facing South African municipalities as they move to become smart cities, says Clive Charlton, Head of Solution Architecture for Sub-Saharan Africa at Amazon Web Services (AWS), who was speaking ahead of an Amazon Web Services (AWS) webinar centred on building citizen-focused smart cities of the future. 

While smart city solutions could address many serviced delivery problems currently facing municipalities across Africa, there are certain challenges hampering the adoption of these solutions. “Connectivity is the number one challenge,” he says. “Smart cities rely very heavily on connectivity – smart water meters, smart electricity meters and smart public transport all use smart devices to send data to the cloud. This relies on connectivity, so infrastructure and coverage are a challenge in many areas. The cost of data also comes into it.

“With more devices in the field sending data into the cloud, it does come at a cost. There are providers now looking at technologies such as LoRa (long range) low-power wide-area networks for lower cost access, but connectivity remains a challenge in many parts of Africa.”

Charlton says other factors that could drive or hinder smart city development were public policy and cloud skills. “Public policy should play a role in enabling government entities to make use of public cloud. In addition, to really take advantage of the cloud and services available, skills development is important. We need to channel cloud skills, so we have programmes like AWS Educate to help with skills development, as well as free online training through AWS Training.”

Amazon is working to help 29 million people across the globe grow their technical skills with free cloud computing skills training through AWS-designed programmes. These programmes have also come to South Africa and Africa in recent years.

This webinar is part of a series hosted by AWS, in collaboration with ITWeb for public sector decision-makers. The webinar will be held on 7 October 2021 and aims to discuss the ways in which AWS is working with the public sector to redesign how public services function in the ‘new normal’. It will also delve into how to develop, deploy and promote sustainable practices to address the digital transformation journey, how to meet digital citizens’ service delivery expectations and needs, and how to employ digital technologies to aid the public sector in building smart urban centres for the future. To register for this event, go to