Zim seeks $1, 5bln for smart cities implementation

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LIVINGSTONE MARUFU

Zimbabwe is seeking a total $1,5 billion to upgrade Mbare, Sakubva and Makokoba high density suburbs into smart cities.

The smart cities concept makes use of modern technology to improve transport systems, energy efficiency and urban de-congestion

Last year, Cabinet approved the re-organisation of Mbare (Harare), Sakubva (Mutare) and (Bulawayo) suburbs.

“The concept of Smart Cities is rooted in the implementation of user-friendly information and communication technologies developed by major industries for urban spaces,” Local Government, Public Works and National Housing Minister July Moyo said.

“Each suburb is seeking at least $500 million to re-organise an area into an efficient urban area which is technologically advanced.”

Government believes that Smart Cities concept is forward-looking, progressive and resource efficient while it provides the same high quality of life for its environs.

Speaking during the launch and summit held in Mutare recently, Manicaland Provincial Affairs Minister, Ellen Gwaradzimba, said the concept is the future for development.

“We are fostering new ways of transforming our cities beyond  feeding and clothing citizens, the government is ready to unleash and solve the many problems that we face today in our cities,” she said.

The Minister said Smart Cities will promote new forms of governance.

“As devolution dawns before us, we want to promote new forms of governance and public participation, by making intelligent decisions at a strategic level so as to become Smart. Becoming a Smart City is no longer an option or an ideal of aesthetics but a requirement that allows our cities to forcefully tackle current global challenges,” she said.

The Summit brought different players together ranging from Government officials, town mayors, investors specialising in smart city service provision.

Telecoms entity, TelOne who were also part of the organisers also took time to exhibit their Neo Face Recognition system.

According to the company’s Innovation Executive, Jeremiah Munembe, the institution is set to create a Smart City Ecosystem.

“We have one of the biggest data networks in the country and as we move to adopt the smart city concepts, we look to attract tourists to the country by providing efficiency in a safe environment.

“Through our Neo Face Recognition system our network and application will provide video surveillance and traffic analytics to fight crime and recklessness on the roads.

“The system will expose criminals and will be an easy way to have a Smart City, our many users will also have a chance to login from wherever they are and create their profiles,” he said.

Mutare Mayor Councilor Blessing Tandi said his city is ready for smart city innovation and will be the first to undertake the initiative.