Innocent Ruwende Senior Reporter
Mobile network operator, Econet Wireless, has announced plans to give Harare First Street a major facelift which will see the company repaving pavements and designing clean family-friendly sitting areas with water features, children’s play area, translucent seats, benches, open air theatre sitting and solar phone charging ports.
Econet, which is partnering Harare City Council, also plans to redo the First Street Police Post by deploying an eco-friendly and energy efficient container with air-conditioning, surveillance monitoring screens with split view, patrol self-balancing electric scooters, coffee and water dispensers.
Speaking at a breakfast meeting with stakeholders to launch the regeneration of the First Street Mall, the company’s chief of staff, Mr Lovemore Nyatsine, said they had experts who will work with the city council in different aspects of the development and no budget has been set for the programme which can be implemented in phases.
“Smart street lighting with closed circuit television will be the first step towards the development of smart city as this increases the energy efficiency of the city, reduce energy costs, reduce carbon emissions, reduce maintenance costs, enhance public safety and improve traffic control,” he said.
Other features on Econet plans include street lights information booth surveillance system digital screens, Wi-Fi information booth, surveillance system, digital screens, Wi-Fi, police post pavements and kerbs sitting areas, landscaping and vending kiosks toilets bins.
Smart solar-powered digital sign boards designed to serve as a stand-alone information-sharing platform with e-ink displays will also be erected.
Self-service kiosks will also be erected to allow payment of rates and water bills, as well as purchase of electricity tokens.
Econet also wants modern digital billboards in the form of solar-powered digital screens with live streaming capabilities for displaying paid adverts, specialised messages such as birthday wishes, weather forecast, breaking news and major sporting events.
Harare mayor Councillor Herbert Gomba said it was time to bid farewell to the Harare of the past and welcome the new vision of a smart city.
“We want a city that competes with world capitals in terms of infrastructure, architecture, service delivery and facilities,” he said. “Our central business district has deteriorated and is no longer attractive. Buildings are in bad shape, they have not been repainted and spruced up in a long time.
“The state of the CBD is driving away potential investors, shoppers and visitors. Harare has to be a 24-hour city. A city that resonates with its totem, Haarare. Once we are able to inject life into First Street, we hope the spirit of rejuvenation catches up with all property owners in Harare.”