In this episode of the Smart Community podcast, I have a brilliant chat with Zaheer Allam. Zaheer was the co-founder of the ‘Platform Citoyenne’, and NGO that successfully stopped the proliferation of coal fired plants in Mauritius. He is today an Urban Strategist for the Port Louis Development Initiative where he contributed to the drafting of a ‘National Regeneration Scheme’ aimed at economically incentivising urban regeneration. The scheme was successfully adopted by the Government of Mauritius in the National Budget of 2018-2019.

In this episode, we discuss Zaheer’s background as an Urban Strategist and his interest in looking at how to regenerate cities. Zaheer tells us how he thinks Mauritius is currently embracing Smart concepts and the unique way they are encouraging Urban Regeneration projects. We talk about the importance of democratising not only access to data but also knowledge of data to create more sustainable, more resilient Smart Cities, as well as the challenges of being a small developing state facing the realities of mitigating climate change problems without the economic power to influence global climate change conversation. Zaheer then tells us some of the key things that need to be considered in urban regeneration and smart city projects in developing nations, and Why Westerners need to properly understand the context and priorities of different African places before prescribing Smart solutions. We finish our chat discussing the emerging trends of autonomous cities and biotechnology in cities. As always we hope you enjoy listening to this episode as much as we enjoyed making it.

Listen here: 

What we cover in this episode:

  • Zaheer’s background as an Urban Strategist and his interest in looking at how to regenerate cities
  • What sparked Zaheer’s interest in the Smart City concept
  • Zaheer’s definition of a Smart City and why he believes they’re so important
  • How Zaheer thinks Mauritius is currently embracing Smart concepts
  • The need for urban regeneration and the unique way Mauritius is encouraging this 
  • The importance of democratising not only access to data but also knowledge of data to create more sustainable, more resilient Smart Cities
  • The challenges of being a small developing state facing the realities of mitigating climate change problems without the economic power to influence global climate change conversation
  • Why we need more global, multidisciplinary open data sharing
  • The Urban Regeneration projects Zaheer works on across Africa that are win-win for all involved
  • Key things that need to be considered in urban regeneration and smart city projects in developing nations
  • Why Westerners need to properly understand the context and priorities of different African places before prescribing Smart solutions
  • How we can better do the integration piece, particularly between government and private sector and citizens
  • Key challenges from around the world that Zaheer has observed in the Smart City conversation
  • The emerging trends of autonomous cities and biotechnology in cities

Quotes:

“Instead of just waiting or the government to come and repair the road, now with the urban regeneration scheme, the private sector can rebuilt the road and recoup that investment on their income tax.”

“In our case, being a small island developing state, and being an African state, it’s quite challenging because we don’t have the economic power to encourage global debates on climate change. But we’re on the frontline of climate change and resilience is very important to us.”

“We do agree that technology has the potential to do incredible things, but then in some cases [like developing nations without basic foundations] technology isn’t the priority.”

“One issues which is all around the world in Smart Cities, from the developers side is that they will see it only as a real estate agenda.”

“We need to ask those difficult questions now because there are ethical imperatives at stake.”

Connect: 

Find the full show notes at: www.mysmart.community 

Connect with Zaheer on LinkedIn and find him on Facebook

Connect with me via email: hello@mysmart.community 

Connect via LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook @SmartCommHQ

The Smart Community Podcast is produced by Perk Digital.

My Smart Community

My Smart Community offers consulting and media services with a focus on making our communities more accessible, liveable and sustainable for all. We have a focus on Smart Mobility, Smart project management, Smart technology in regional communities, dealing with disruption and facilitating genuine collaboration. As well as podcast production, communication and media advisory and engagement, keynote speaking, moderating, master of ceremonies and workshop design and facilitation.

The Smart Community Podcast

The Smart Community Podcast is a hub where smart and exciting people from all around the world come to discuss all things Smart City, Smart Town, Smart Region - anything that makes a place more liveable. Together we can create our own Smart Communities.

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