BY SILAS NKALA
BULAWAYO City Council says it is pursuing an ambitious plan to develop low-cost houses for low-income earners through a smart city housing programme.
The city’s economic development officer Kholisani Moyo told Southern Eye that the smart city project would include regeneration of several projects in old suburbs as well as construction of rental accommodation, double graves, and implementation of sustainable solid waste management, among others.
Moyo said in pursuit of the smart city housing concept, council had unveiled virgin land in Umvumila area to set up a smart industrial part as park of the special economic zones (SEZ) project.
“There is a 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,” Moyo said.
“There is a lot of pressure on the construction of the city’s public hospitals as they are in a poor state and fall short of meeting the population’s needs and world-class standards. This provides a plethora of investment opportunities for investors.
“Smart projects and investments in the health sector include smart burial (double graves, tombstones), solar systems at clinics, conversion of solid waste to energy and medical tourism,” he said.
Moyo said there was also need for smart investments in the agriculture sector.
“The agriculture sector is the mainstay of the economy which contributes 15,5% to the country’s gross domestic product (GDP). The city has well-established value chains within its agro-processing industry, starting with council-owned farms, food and beverage processing industries and supermarkets,” he said.
Moyo said a smart vegetable market could also be developed for Bulawayo, which could supply seedlings, seeds and trees to green the city.
He said the Umvumila area would be targeted for SEZ programmes.
“The proposed industrial park will be the first of its kind for the city. The park will focus on attracting the much-needed foreign direct investments (FDI) into the city as we aim to attract top investors so as to stimulate industrial growth and turn Bulawayo into a regional industrial powerhouse.
“The city also targets to have various sectors such as information communication technology, innovation parks, the beef and leather industry, car assembly plants, engineering industry, a factory park, pharmaceutical industry, cosmetic industry, steel fabrication, tourism and curio manufacturing and solar engineering parks,” he said.
On housing, Bulawayo currently has a backlog of over 100 000 residential stands.