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A new economy beckons for Bulawayo

01 Jan 2019 at 10:55hrs | Views
THE year 2018 was very eventful for the economy of the City of Kings as it works towards fulfilling its vision to be 'a leader in local governance excellence' with a vibrant economy by year 2024.

Drawing inspiration from the broader national vision, a number of interventions were carried out in 2018, a clear indication that the City of Bulawayo is ready to revive its economy and reclaim its historic status as the country's industrial hub. The city's economic development unit led by myself, played a key role in these processes with some of the highlights below.

Bulawayo City re-development programme The City of Bulawayo embarked on an ambitious city re-development programme whose main thrust was to rebuild the city to allow it to compete with other cities at regional, continent and global levels.

Among the key objectives of this bold re-development initiative is the desire to set the city on a recovery path and make gigantic steps towards economic, physical and social growth while protecting the environment.

Creating new jobs, boosting revenues, providing adequate and affordable services, rebuilding infrastructure and building houses that are responsive to the socio-economic characteristics of Bulawayo's population, are also at the heart of the programme.

This also entails provision of a continuous, appropriate and socially responsive planning and implementation support to the city through lobbying, negotiations and agreements, promoting inclusivity and participation, responsiveness, transparency and accountability in the delivery of the city's mandate, while boosting expectations for the future.

An economic baseline study was successfully carried out during the course of the year 2018, in order to achieve the objectives of the City's Re-Development agenda. The report of the study is also expected to guide the city in the formulation of an economic blue print as well as a strategic plan.

Special Economic Zones (SEZs) In February 2018, the City Council and other stakeholders had a breakfast meeting to answer the question whether Bulawayo was ready to implement the SEZs model aimed at catalysing investment and reviving industries. The local authority indicated that it was ready to implement the drive given that they had already put in place the necessary ground work for the programme in the city.

In order to speed up the implementation, an all-stakeholder Bulawayo SEZ technical working group was put in a place to identify and rank possible sectors to be included in the SEZ based on Bulawayo's comparative advantage and historical background as the country's industrial hub. A total of 15 sectors were thus identified, ranked and recommended for consideration by the Special Economic Zones Authority.

Furthermore, the committee identified possible SEZ sites to be considered by the SEZ Authority. These sites included the former export processing zone site (Umvumila area), Belmont area, Donnington and Kelvin industrial area.

On the 31st of August 2018, the SEZ Authority in terms of section 20 of the SEZ Act (Chapter 14:34) declared Belmont, Kelvin, Donnington and Umvumila to be SEZ with effect from 24 August 2018.

Currently, Bulawayo companies are submitting applications to be considered under SEZ. The programme is expected to catalyse investment and revive Bulawayo industries in the coming years. Harnessing tourism opportunities During 2018 tourism was identified as one of the key sectors that could turnaround the economic fortunes of the City of Bulawayo.

Working with various stakeholders, the city embarked on a programme to identify and preserve historical sites within its area of jurisdiction as part of its efforts to reap the benefits of tourism.

Bulawayo has significant sites that can make one understand and appreciate the origins, growth and development of the city and its people. Most of the sites are found in the heart of the town, giving a historical background of the City of Bulawayo.

Bulawayo carries a rich cultural and historical heritage, which cannot be forgotten. The city has for many years been considered an arts, culture and heritage site capital of Zimbabwe. The heritage sites in Bulawayo make the city a rightful destination of choice on cultural and heritage terms. The city is thus leveraging on these heritage sites to promote tourism and economic development for Bulawayo and Matabeleland region.

"Ko-Bulawayo" township tourism committee, an all-stakeholder working group formed by the city council has identified areas that can be marketed profitable in order to release the dream of positioning the city as the country's tourism hub.

Below are some of the identified areas;

city hall, wishing well at the city hall,
hanging tree,
Inxwala grounds,
Macdonald Hall and Mzilikazi Arts And Crafts,
Jairos Jiri's first house in Makokoba,
Makokoba Market (Emkambo),
Makhumalo Beer Hall Big Bhawa,
old fuel station,
Stanley Square (1949),
Erenkini Bus Terminus,
Bulawayo Cenotaph at Charter House,
Statue of JMNNkomo,
Natural History Museum of Zimbabwe,
National Gallery in Bulawayo;
NRZ Museum; and
Centenary Park.

Tourists can also enjoy a two hour heritage building trail, which include Maxim Hotel 1894, Exchange Buildings 1895, Bulawayo Main Post Office 1914 and Goldfields Office 1895.

The city's township tourism package would comprise of taking tourists to the traditional medicines pharmacy popularly known as Emkambo in Makokoba, residence of the country's soccer icons, the Ndlovu brothers, Jairos Jiri Centre among other places.

The resurgence of tourism in the City of Kings will not only market the city as an investment destination of first choice, but will also boost economic activity in other sectors like the leather industry, arts and craft sector. The demand for exotic leather products, art and craft artefacts is expected to increase.

The efforts by Bulawayo City Council and other tourism players to market the city of Kings as a destination of first choice, will increase in the coming in 2019. In my next instalments under a 'A new economy for Bulawayo" I will focus on the investment prospectus and other projects for the New Year.

I wish Bulawayo and all our stakeholders a happy and prosperous economy in 2019.

Kholisani Moyo is the Bulawayo City Council economic development officer.

Source - chronicle
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