India hopeful Trump will continue US support of smart cities

Though Donald Trump has yet to move into the White House, smart city projects in India have already been discussed with his transition team.

Business Insider mentioned that discussions have been held between Trump representatives and other government parties over U.S. plans to help develop three Indian smart cities.

The Obama administration previously signed a memorandum of understanding to develop smart cities in Visakhapatnam, Allahabad and Ajmer. America agreed to assist with feasibility studies, capacity building, project planning and infrastructure development for the projects.

“We had initial discussions with the transition team (under new Presidency),” said U.S. Department of Commerce official Vinay Vijay Singh. “It is still early stages but we have shared our plans and they have been included.”

Singh says a Trump presidency is likely to continue to support the three cities, though certain issues may be addressed

“Indian cities should be enabled to have more autonomy,”said Singh. “The mechanics between the Centre and states in India need to be worked out.”

He adds that U.S. support of the three smart cities is not driven politically but by American private sector interests, which see this as a growth area.

Focused on energy, transportation and communications

The focus areas of the three smart cities are energy, transportation and telecoms, according to the U.S. government.

“We will help identify opportunities and it is important that there should be more cities to cities contact for greater synergy on best practices,” said US Trade & Development Agency’s Devin Hampton.

Meanwhile, Singh says the U.S. is continuing efforts to help India develop other aspects of its smart city strategy, particularly around funding models and risk aspects.

“We will continue to engage with all stakeholders. We will also work with multilateral institutions to help eliminate the initial risk involved in such projects,” said Singh said.

As example of the risk mitigation work, he cited the U.S. Treasury Department’s assistance to the Pune Municipal Corporation in helping the city raise funds through issuing bonds.

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