Vusumuzi Dube, Online News Editor
COWDRAY Park and the former Ascot Race Course in Bulawayo have been identified as potential sites for the construction of smart cities, with a feasibility study already being embarked on.
President Mnangagwa recently emphasised the need for the country to implement the smart city concept in line with the recently launched climate policy. This saw the Government sending a team led by Local Government and Public Works Minister Cde July Moyo to the United Arab Emirates to study how best the concept could be fully implemented.
A smart city uses information and communication technology (ICT) to improve operational efficiency, share information with the public and provide a better quality of Government service and citizen welfare.
According to a Bulawayo City Council confidential report, the local authority has already identified the former Ascot Race Course and an industrial site in Cowdray for the establishment of the smart cities.
Further, a potential investor has approached the local authority to embark on a feasibility study on the two sites, which will be done at no cost to council.
“Management had since received an expression of interest from Purim Events Consultants to develop two smart cities at the former Ascot Race Course and Cowdray Park areas in the City of Bulawayo.
These projects would generate employment and improve the economy of Bulawayo. Purim Events Consultants had highlighted that they would undertake the feasibility study at their own cost. The feasibility study would entail geographical and environmental influences that could either hinder or add value to the envisioned proposed smart cities,” reads the report.
The local authority further noted that the two feasibility studies will be an advantage for the city as they had not yet done the studies hence it will benefit Bulawayo as it was going to be done by a potential investor at no cost to council.
In the ensuing debate councillors requested clarity on the exact location of the Cowdray Park site, while others questioned the interests of the potential investor noting that the study was being done at the investor’s costs.
“The city economic development officer, Mr Kholisani Moyo explained that with regards to Cowdray Park, the development area was located in an industrial site and maps would be provided in due course.
Citing examples of development projects that had been previously carried out by council he further explained that when potential investors identified an investment opportunity they requested for a feasibility study from council, if one had not been conducted they carried it out at their own cost.
“After conducting the feasibility study and if the area was deemed suitable for development the investors then applied to council to be granted the tender to develop the area further.
When giving the investor permission to conduct a feasibility study on a particular area they entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with council which clearly stipulated that they were not entitled to the development of the area,” reads the council report.