In recent years the concept of “smart cities” has emerged as a model for urban development, based on digital innovations. In the cities of the global South, appropriation of these tools comes up against particularly rapid, unplanned and often informal urbanisation processes. Far from automatically optimising and simplifying urban management, digital technologies and the arrival of their new actors are causing disruptive changes in urban governance. In partnership with AFD, IDDRI is thus examining the way in which these technologies are bringing about very real changes in urban action, along with their potential for sustainable urban development.

In developing cities, digital technologies and, more generally, new information and communication technologies appear to hold promise for optimising urban management, making urban service provision more efficient and more sustainable, and making relations between the public and the authorities more interactive. But what is the reality? In which fields of public action are digital tools used? How do these new tools penetrate these territories? How do the different actors use them? What changes do digital tools produce on the ground? And what challenges does this pose for the local authorities and for the governance of cities undergoing rapid, informal growth?

Pierre-Arnaud Barthel, Laure Criqui and Alexandra Jaunet will explore these questions based on specific examples of how digital tools are used in different fields of urban policy application, and an analysis of their impacts on urban governance. They will provide an overview of their uses in developing cities and will suggest possible courses of action for donors in order to promote and assist the local authorities in the global South in adopting these tools for sustainable development.

The presentations will be followed by a discussion with participants.

Moderation of the session: Mathieu Saujot