Senior Business Reporter
GOVERNMENT’s thrust to advance the ‘Smart City’ concept will get a major boost this week with a forum for infrastructure planners, construction sector, industrialists and academics set to tackle the issues in detail.
Slated for tomorrow in Bulawayo, the Zimbabwe Smart Cities and Rural Communities Infrastructure Forum, is one of the key programmes to run alongside the 62nd edition of the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair (ZITF).
The forum will run under the theme: ‘Building a Better and Stronger Resiliency in the Cities & Rural Communities Ecosystem Post Covid-19 Pandemic”.
A ‘Smart City’ is one that uses information communication technologies to improve operational efficiency, share information with the public and provide a better quality of public service and citizen welfare.
Cowdray Park suburb 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 has emphasised the need for the country to implement the smart city concept in line with the recently launched climate policy.
According to the forum organiser, Mr Nicky Moyo, DEAT Capital managing director, due to the tremendous rise in population, cities and rural communities around the world are facing complex social, economic and environmental challenges requiring innovative solutions that include infrastructure planning, and governance.
Mr Nicky Moyo
“Never has it been more important to create sustainable urban areas, which are designed for the future, whether that be retrofitting existing homes, achieving net-zero carbon emissions to smart placemaking,” he said.
“By utilising the smart city mindset, the entire housing sector can come together to deliver the urgent need for more sustainable homes, designed for future generations to live and work together,” said Mr Moyo.
He said the forum will provide a platform for experts and policymakers to showcase technical solutions for smart cities and rural applications such as smart grids, agritech, e-commerce, digital finance, e-grocery platforms, smart transport system, smart tourism, smart education, smart health, smart housing, and e-governance.
Mr Moyo said investments in smart initiatives are expected to rise over the next few years and as such there is a need to embrace technology.
“Digitisation stands as an essential, unstoppable revolution to ensure future-proof cities and rural communities focused on people and the environment.
“The stakes have been raised by the Covid-19 crisis, which has meant end-users are already putting extra pressure on their logistics chain for reduced costs amid demand reduction.
“Digital transformation offers a way of meeting those challenges without cutting corners on service levels or resilience.”
Zimbabwe has shown its commitment to implementing the smart city concept with President Mnangagwa’s last year sending a team led by the Minister of Local Government and Public Works, July Moyo, to the United Arab Emirates to study how best the concept can be fully implemented in the country.
Local Government and Public Works Minister July Moyo
The forum is expected to attract senior Government officials, urban and rural authorities, waste management companies, urban planners, designers, architects and real estate developers among others.