Govt’s new Cyber City project plan hijacked from engineers
CONCERNS have emerged that the government’s Cyber City project in Mt Hampden resembles features in a project proposal presented in 2017 to the Local Government Ministry by the Zimbabwe Institution of Engineers (ZIE) which wanted to bring in partners to develop the area into an innovation techno hub.
The proposal obtained by The NewsHawks was signed off by Engineer Jacob Mtisi, the ZIE’s information communication technonogy (ICT) division chairperson.
The model proposed by the engineers was supposed to resemble the Silicon Valley version which is an innovation techno hub based in the state of California in the United States.
The word “silicon” originally referred to the large number of silicon chip innovators and manufacturers in the region, and is now home to many of the world’s largest high-tech corporations and thousands of start-up companies.
When President Emmerson Mnangagwa officiated at the ground breaking of the Zim Cyber City to be built by Mulk International in Mt Hampden last year, he said it will be a “state-of-the-art mixed-use hi-tech park” which resembles what had been proposed by the ZIE in 2017.
Mulk’s company has already been given an exclusive licence to establish a blockchain and digital assets special economic zone. The UAE company promised to build townhouses, villas and hi-tech offices which were largely mentioned in the ZIE proposal. Mtisi confirmed to The NewsHawks that ZIE had submitted a project proposal whose features are now being developed by the government and Mulk Holdings in Mt Hampden.
However, he stressed that he did not wish to see the government cancelling the contract with Mulk Holdings but to open doors of engagement on the issue with ZIE.
“I am not asking the government to reverse what they have agreed with the Middle East investor but to offer us alternative land to assist with the creation of employment in Zimbabwe and beyond,” he said. Part of the proposal put forward in 2017 by the ZIE reads: “The purpose of this paper is to advocate for the enhancement of the adoption of Information and Communication Technology as the engine for economic growth through the use of Innovation Techno-hubs, among other things.”
“To achieve this, Zimbabwe Information and Communication Technology (ZICT) division of the Zimbabwe Institution of Engineers (ZIE) requests the Government of Zimbabwe through the Local Government to allocate land for the development of an Innovation Techno-Hub in the proposed ‘new capital city’ in the Mount Hampden area.”
“Subsequently this initial techno-hub will be a model for the development of affiliated provincial innovation hubs. Furthermore ZICT proposes the use of the Private, Public Partnership (PPP) model for the development of the Innovation Techno-hub.”
In addition, the engineers proposed that the government of Zimbabwe contribute a tract of land in Mt Hampden measuring about 200 hectares for the construction of the Innovation techno hub.
On their part, the engineers pledged to lead in the sourcing of funds from local and international ICT private, public and NGO partners to fund clustered facilities, functionalities and technology infrastructure.
They also pledged to lead in the promotion of human capital development and research and design collaboration between STEM [science, technology, engineering and mathematics] educational institutions and private players as well as promote the use of the Innovation techno-hub by local and indigenous entrepreneurs and innovators to create and incubate business opportunities for homemade technology exports.
Lastly, the engineers pledged to spearhead the engagement of the diverse array of stakeholders and the consequential communication matrix. In the past, the government has been accused of implementing projects put to it as proposals by some citizens seeking private public partnerships.
A striking example is the case of Strive Masiyiwa who put to the government a proposal to start up a mobile communication business in 1993 but the idea was developed by the government and resulted in the formation of NetOne.
Masiyiwa had to go to court to challenge the development in order to obtain a licence he later got after the 1995 landmark High Court ruling that came in his favour.
He was represented in the case by a South African advocate and constitutional expert, Wim Trengove SC (Senior Counsel) who was considered one of the best legal minds, and also represented the late President Nelson Mandela when he came out of prison.