Investors across different continents across the world are looking forward and readying to participate in the urban market of India that is set to unleash a new growth driver in the economy.
CII had brought together a diverse group of stakeholders of the urban landscape at the CII Smart City Investors’ Meet on Thursday in the capital. While the meet saw a huge response from foreign diplomats, it resonated equally among industry players who are looking at these smart cities as new investment opportunities.
Speaking at the session US Ambassador to India, Dr. Richard Verma, while appreciating long and fruitful partnership between two countries at the CII Smart City Investors Meet declared India to be leader of global urban transition. Ambassador Verma also brought out the challenges facing Indian urban landscape like governance, pollution & congestion but also emphasized that these can be converted into limitless opportunities through the Smart City Mission. He re-emphasized the US commitment to help India in this crucial area through 3 lead cities – Allahabad, Ajmer & Vizag, through cooperation of some of the best of US companies. Going ahead, Dr. Verma emphasized upon need to focus on local solutions and careful planning through means like community engagement and collaboration, continue implementation of advanced technologies and apply innovative financial solutions.
Bringing the British perspective to the forum, Sir Dominic Asquith KCMG, the British Commissioner to India, in his remarks stated that India’s estimated smart cities market is the 12th largest globally. He promised to support Indian Smart City Mission through the UK’s expertise in urban design; planning & architecture; infrastructure engineering & construction; data, software & analytics; project management; financing & real estate; and public engagement, and customized user-centric solutions, among others. All these themes would be displayed in the 3 cities chosen by UK in India – Pune, Indore & Amravati.
Mr Kenji Hiramatsu, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Japan to India, appreciated the Indian Government’s top-to-bottom approach for selecting the 20 smart cities for the first phase. He highlighted some of the key areas in which Japan is set to collaborate with India, including sewerage & water supply systems, energy efficiency and conservation, maximising the use of energy through stable Smart Grid systems, solar technology, and urban transportation systems. The Japanese Government is already proactively helping the cities of Varanasi, New Delhi, Chennai, Bengaluru and Hyderabad, and Ambassador Hiramatsu shared that Japan would be also provide technical assistance to India to make the cities and urban infrastructure resilient to natural disasters like floods and earthquakes. He also highlighted the massive financial commitments made by Japanese companies in the Indian economy, like Softbank’s USD 20 billion commitment to India’s renewable energy sector in the next 10 years. Sustainable solutions that can help cities deal with natural disasters and climate challenges could be one of the fundamental pillars for the smart cities.
Speaking of his positive experiences in India, H E Mr Cho Hyun, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary, the Republic of Korea admired the role of Smart cities as enablers for India’s economic growth. He emphasised the need for a comprehensive and holistic approach to address urban challenges, which India could learn from the Korean experience. Ambassador Hyun also emphasised the need to formulate business models in collaboration with private players, and suggested that while transforming cities, the focus should be on the use of technologies, ICT, IoT, and meticulous planning involving local communities and stakeholders. He said it was essential to garner citizen participation through encouragement, ownership and credit for implementing solutions smartly.
Rounding off the international perspectives, Ms Magdalena Cruz Yabar, Charge d’Affaires, Embassy of Spain in India, in her remarks highlighted that focus of Indian Smart Cities should be beyond technology and move towards smarter engagement. She reiterated the Spanish commitment to innovation in cutting edge technology, in sectors such as health, Smart Cities, urban mobility and clean energy. A lot can be learnt from Barcelona that ranks top amongst other Smart Cities in areas of smart transportation. Madrid too specializes in environment analytics project in areas of sewerage, water and sanitation.