Farirai Machivenyika Senior Reporter
Government should craft new policy guidelines for public land auctions for local authorities to enable them to accrue more value from the land and fund other infrastructure development projects within their jurisdictions.
This was said by University of Zimbabwe lecturer Dr Tawanda Zinyama at the ongoing Zimbabwe Annual Multi-Stakeholder Debt Conference organised by the African Forum and Network on Debt and Development (AFRODAD) in collaboration with the Zimbabwe Coalition on Debt and Development (ZIMCODD).
Dr Zinyama said studies by the World Bank in Ethiopia had found that land sold at auctions had attracted up to 80 times more than land sold through administrative negotiations, funds which could be used for other projects like water reticulation systems and roads.
He also said local authorities must prepare land asset management strategies before selling it.
“The urban local authorities must carry out an inventory that identifies all publicly held land in an urban area; establish the market value of all significant land parcels and make strategic decisions about whether parcels should be retained in current use by the Government, sold to the private sector, jointly developed by public and private partners or converted to other public use,” he said.
Adoption of such a model, he said, would enable the country to adopt the ‘city financing the city’ model.
Dr Zinyama said land-based financing was increasingly becoming an important source of urban infrastructure finance citing China as an example as one country that had financed its infrastructure development through this way while in 2007, a two-day auction for a new city development in Cairo, Egypt had generated US$3,12 billion.
He said land sales by local authorities have shown the potential to generate revenue for infrastructure investment and accelerated socio-economic development.
Most urban local authorities in the country have poor land management systems that have seen losing out on potential revenue to land barons.