On the 20th of July 2022, President ED Mnangagwa presided over the groundbreaking ceremony for the Zim Cyber City at New City in Mt Hampden. It has emerged that this is going to be a US$500 million project. It shall be funded by a group of Dubai-based investors headed by Mr Shaji UI Mulk under his company Mulk International. The project will comprise things like villas, cyber technology offices, shopping malls, recreational facilities, and Mulk Towers, amongst others. Mulk Towers once completed will become the tallest tower in Africa. It will house the first ever duty-free mall in Harare. This was all officially announced by Nick Mangwana, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Information, Publicity, and Broadcasting. Let us look more into what this development project is about.

The Zim Cyber City Development Project

President Mnangagwa highlighted that the initiative is part of efforts to properly position Zimbabwe in the Fourth Industrial Revolution. He also pointed out that the project was the culmination of his call for Mr Shaji UI Mulk to invest in Zimbabwe. Their first contact was during a Business Forum in March 2022. They sat down together for a dinner where they deliberated on possible investment engagements.

President Mnangagwa remarked during the groundbreaking ceremony that, “I told Mr Mulk that I desire to build a smart city like Dubai here. He agreed to build a smart city better than Dubai”. Mr Mulk corroborated that by saying, “It is the President who opened our eyes and gave a compelling argument on why we should invest in Zimbabwe”.

The project is consistent with the government’s National Human Settlements Policy. The whole idea behind the policy is to end up with properly environments with modernized infrastructure. Upon the completion of Cyber City, it will be acclaimed as a self-contained intelligent city. It has also emerged that Mr Mulk will invest in other areas too such as the health sector and digitization, amongst others.

Mixed Reactions To The Project

The nation is divided over this Zim Cyber City project. Some are excited about it and those who are sceptical.

Those who are in total support are basing their position on the developmental aspect. They are saying that it is good for Zimbabwe to develop in this manner. They are also citing that the project will create employment opportunities. The project will also bring the spotlight to Zimbabwe as well.

On the other side, some are not convinced the project is a good one. Some are concerned about the terms of the investment deal – most of the details are not public knowledge. The fundamental question that comes to the fore is, “Are we accepting foreign direct investment (FDI) from a position of strength?” Others feel that we could have had our own (i.e. Zimbabweans) rolling out such a project. In the same vein, some even feel that given our vast resources we could have easily bankrolled it ourselves. The major theme in all the concerns is whether the project will benefit ordinary Zimbabweans.

Both sides of the argument carry valid issues. Such developmental initiatives are needed in Zimbabwe, no doubt! However, are they designed to benefit ordinary Zimbabweans? Are the terms based on us having the upper hand or vice versa? FDI is always supposed to be supported only when we are negotiating from a position of strength. Then there are of course concerns about such deals being self-serving to the few elites involved. I guess in due course it will become clear as day how good or bad this Zim Cyber City is.

I want to see such projects in Zimbabwe. However, I wish it were more us Zimbabweans being afforded such opportunities than foreigners. I do not doubt in my mind that we have capable Zimbabweans both local and in the diaspora. I was thinking about the cost of this Zim Cyber City project i.e. US$500 million. Are we saying that we do not have Zimbabweans who can mobilize such amounts of money? Certainly not! Just some food for thought; what are your thoughts on this Zim Cyber City? Kindly drop your comments below. Anyways, the project has already started setting its digital footprint. You can check out its Facebook page to get a visual idea of what the project will be like. They also have a website up, check out it here. The provided contact number is +971 56 890 4565.