The adoption of digital uses is exponential in many African countries. This spectacular development of the use of new technologies is especially due to an increasingly connected young, female and urban population. As these private uses often take place without political intervention, local authorities may find themselves sidelined with limited access to the data produced by users and companies in their own areas.
Yet in the field of urban action, digital tools provide an immediacy: they cross geographical and administrative borders, give real-time information and reduce the time needed to take action. They also make it possible to explore innovative and more agile project management methods and new economic models.
A digital transition, when it is led with citizens and the local ecosystem and managed step by step by municipalities, can also help speed up the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
ASToN (African Smart Towns Network) is a network of 12 African cities that want to use digital tools to address local and global challenges. The aim of creating an alliance and partnership between the participating cities is for them to rapidly become leading digital players in their respective local contexts, in an appropriate and sustainable manner.
The project provides technical assistance to these 12 local authorities. It will be conducted in four phases: the preparation and launch of the network will be followed by an assessment of the issue in each city and the implementation of a working method on a case-by-case basis. Integrated action plans will subsequently be prepared with local groups and an experimental prototype will be implemented. The National Urban Renewal Agency (ANRU), which has been inspired by the European URBACT program, is responsible for the management and has set up a project management unit (PMU) to coordinate the activities with the cities and experts.
ASToN will promote the use of digital tools for a more effective management of local public finances and urban services, an appropriate management of public action and more effective citizen participation.
The experiments tested and developed by the cities will bring about new urban uses, while promoting the inclusion of all social groups and improving their economic performance.
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