By Byron Mutingwende
In pursuit of coming up with a metropolitan that competes with world capitals in terms of infrastructure, architecture, service delivery and facilities, Econet Wireless Zimbabwe is partnering the City of Harare in a project to spruce up First Street.
In his speech during the launch of the project, Lovemore Nyatsine, Econet Zimbabwe Chief of Staff said the move would lay the foundation for Harare to become a world-class city.
“The challenges we are facing in Harare today can not be solved by one individual or one corporate. They require a multi-stakeholder approach. In September, there was a cholera outbreak in Budiriro and Glenview. As Econet we have over 1200 volunteers working daily in cleaning up the epicentres of the outbreak, which are Budiriro and Glenview. We are also decommissioning illegal dumpsites in those areas and cleaning up the streets so as to contain the medieval era disease that has so far claimed more than 50 lives.
“As a patriotic and responsible corporate, Econet is working round the clock to ensure that our people will never suffer the indignity of not having access to clean and potable water. We will initially target First Street to ensure the City of Harare eventually becomes a modern city. In this initiative, as the Econet family we are ready to give our hearts, skills and commitment to make this project a success,” Nyatsine said.
Another representative from Econet, Mr. Farai Mutyasera said city centres are the epicentres of economic activities and in turn consume the highest energy while emitting the highest greenhouse emissions. The fact that many people come to cities exerts pressure on urban infrastructure.
As a panacea, it is critical to embrace sustainability that is at the core of smart cities. Overall, as a city affected by rapid urbanisation, Harare’s infrastructure is largely collapsed.
“There are dilapidated toilets along First Street. Since there are many unemployed people, there is an increase in cases of pickpocketing yet our police officers carry out their duties in a dilapidated police post without chairs and desks despite the fact that they are warm, helpful and hospitable to citizens. It is also sad to note that there are no bicycle rails and the pavements are in a sorry state,” the Econet representative said.
Harare no longer has its great ambience of the glory days when it gained the moniker “Sunshine city” because flowers are no longer as decorative as they were.
United States based Zimbabwean, Savannah Madamombe pledged a lorry-full of flowers and with the assistance of other citizens began to plant flowers at African Unity Square Garden along First Street. She urged other citizens to follow suit and emulate the gesture by Econet of bringing back Harare’s Sunshine City status..
Councillor Herbert Gomba, the Mayor of Harare weighed in and bemoaned the fact that Harare Central Business District has deteriorated, is in a bad state and no longer attractive. He thanked Econet for partnering the City fathers in restoring the good image of the City.
“The state of the CBD is driving away potential investors, shoppers and visitors. Only the dead do not dream. Dreams are there for the living hence we are gathered here to dream and envision a future city. Econet today has laid the foundation and as citizens we should also play a part in making First Street attractive again,” Mayor Gomba said.
The vision of a world-class city is possible through embracing smart solutions including the Internet of things, which entails connectivity, smart health and mobility. There is need to deploy encompassing smart technology. With connectivity, data centres to be installed by Econet will make it possible to capture, store and avail date to bring solutions to various challenges.
Econet is calling for innovators to develop various applications meant to improve the flow of information in order to foster good governance, transparency and citizen engagement. It also proposes to install digital booths to allow for interaction among citizens and the local authority; as well as digital smart kiosks for payment of rent and rates by residents.
The mobile telephony giant is also proposing to install surveillance and traffic monitoring systems as part of the artificial intelligent data system cutting across the public transport system. Large screens will be deployed to display important information like advertising by businesses. There will also be monitoring screens at police posts. All the initiatives are meant to help Harare achieve a world-class city status by the year 2025.
The event was graced by His Worship the Mayor of Harare Hon Herbert Gomba, Harare Metropolitan Provincial Administrator, Directors from City of Harare, Harare City Committee Chairpersons, representatives from property owners along First Street and Econet management and team.
Representatives from Property owners along First Street at the event hailed the development and committed to supporting the initiative.
Recently, Econet together with Higherlife Foundation responded to the call for government-private sector interventions following the outbreak of Cholera, which was declared a national emergency.