The City of Bulawayo has identified energy, roads infrastructure, Water and waste water infrastructure, Transport, housing, health, agro processing, special economic zones and the Information Communication Technology (ICT) sectors to foster smart City projects and investments in line with the City’s investment prospectus.
The City Economic Development Officer, Mr Kholisani Moyo highlighted that the constant supply of smart energy to the commercial and domestic consumers was key to the reindustrialisation of the City of Bulawayo as the City was facing challenges with electricity in terms of cost and shortages.
“Pursuant to the City Vision of attaining Smart City Status by 2024, a sustainable and much cheaper sources of power have been identified. The City is encouraging a diverse portfolio of investment in the sector which includes construction of a hydro power stations using recycled water, attract investment to set up Solar farms, installations of solar panels in the City’s prominent buildings and industries, installations of Solar Panels at the City’s Dams and Waste- water and Sewer Treatment plants and floating Solar Farms in Council dams whereby Solar farms are erected in all Council water bodies such as all the Lower Ncema dam,” said Mr Moyo.
A huge investment is needed to upgrade the City’s road networks to match those of world class cities.
“The smart projects to be undertaken include construction of road features such as bridges, flyovers, sidewalks, road rehabilitation using readily available material such as cement, construction of new road network to augment the already existing networks, solar powered street lights, traffic and Bus stops, parking management system and City tollgates and Weigh Bridges,” he said.
Mr Moyo noted that over the years, the City of Bulawayo had been plagued by water shortages due to its arid geographical location and there was need to introduce prepaid water meters, recycle waste water, construct biogas digester sewer work stations, fertiliser production, set up waste to energy conversion power plants and use solar power to pump water from the dams to the reservoirs up to the consumers.
The City of Bulawayo will also be investing in its transport sector so as to ensure it meets world class standards.
“The transport sector offers very promising investment avenues such as investment in sustainable and environmentally friendly buses and trams that run on gas and electricity, encouraging cycling, investment in public transport infrastructure, developing commercial areas to augment the need for bus services and encouraging investment in trams,” said Mr Moyo.
On the housing sector, Mr Moyo highlighted that there was need to pursue smart City Housing opportunities which include development of low cost housing for low income earners, regeneration projects for old suburbs and rental accommodation.
Health care represents a significant investment opportunity in the City. There is a lot of pressure on the City’s Public Hospitals and the hospitals are in a poor state and fall short of meeting the population’s needs, as well as world class standards. This provides a plethora of investment opportunities for investors,” he said.
Smart projects and investments in the health sector include smart burial (double graves, tomb stones), solar system at clinics, conversion of solid waste to energy and medical tourism.
“The Agriculture sector is the mainstay of the economy which contributes 15.5% to the country’s Gross Domestic Product. The City has a well established Value chain within its Agro processing industry starting with Council owned farms, food and beverage processing industries and supermarkets,” said Mr Moyo.
He added that nurseries could supply seedlings, seeds and trees greening the City and investment could be attracted in the development of the City’s smart vegetable market.
“On the Special Economic Zones, Council has availed virgin land in the Umvumila area to set up a smart industrial park. The proposed industrial park will be the first of its kind for the City.The park will focus on attracting the much need Foreign Direct Investment into the City as we aim to attract top investors so as to stimulate industrial growth and turn Bulawayo into a regional industrial powerhouse,” he said.
The City will be targeting various sectors which include ICT Innovation Park, beef and leather industry, car assembly, engineering industry, Factory Park, pharmaceutical industry, cosmetic industry, steel fabrication, tourism and curio manufacturing and solar engineering.
The Information Communication Technologies sector offers very promising investment avenues to attain a smart City status and these include the Geographical Information Systems (GIS), payment and billing systems, cloaking systems, video conferencing systems, E-learning systems, drones to gather information, Closed Circuit Televisions (CCTVs), fire alarm systems installed to domestic premises and interactive Bulawayo City Council applications.