A new Smart City is taking shape in Limpopo Province in South Africa. It is catalysed by the economic stimulus of the Musina-Makhado Special Economic Zone SOC. The new Smart City will integrate the towns of Musina and Makhado to become the pre-eminent trade and industrial centre of Southern Africa.
The new Smart City will reignite the rich civilisational heritage of the Great Mapungubwe, Thulamela and Zimbabwe Kingdoms which at their height in 1000 AD produced artifacts in gold and traded globally as far as Arabia, India and China. This region will once again rise and become a modernised industrial and global trade hub, building on its heritage and embracing the technology revolution.
A leading innovative, sustainable and inclusive high-tech Africa gateway city
The geographic location of the Smart City in the northern part of South Africa, bordering Zimbabwe and connecting into the rest of Africa gives it a critical comparative advantage, together with the natural endowments within the surrounds of Musina and Makhado which include high-value agricultural land, mineral resources and functional spatial relationships. If harnessed fully these will help to create a competitive regional economy for South Africa and the continent.
The advantage of the MMSEZ is that it is part of a national economic programme, located within the National Transformation Corridor that links Gauteng with its dynamic economy to the Beitbridge Border Post, one of the busiest ports in Africa.
The goal of the Smart City is transformational. People’s needs and aspirations are at the centre of planning. The foundations are proper sanitation and waste management, 24-hour electricity and water supply, efficient mobility and public transport with a network of well-connected roads and access to reliable and high-speed telecommunications. The circular and green economy based on reuse, recycle, share, low/zero-carbon footprint meets with the concept of the Smart City.
The MMSEZ, working together with all three spheres of government and stakeholders, aims to develop the designated MMSEZ as a catalytic driver for a Smart City which is envisioned to be:
- A leading innovative, sustainable and inclusive high-tech Africa gateway city, driven by residents and visionary investment within a prosperous rural-urban integrated region and operating as a highly connected – freight-, warehousing-, logistics-, transport-, retail- and manufacturing industrial hub supporting the SEZ within a super-efficient Gauteng-Limpopo-Zimbabwe economic corridor.
As a long-term developmental approach, this will result in a transformed, competitive and spatially integrated regional economy and this will lead to the upliftment and well-being of people living in Vhembe, its neighbouring districts and the Province of Limpopo at large.
The development of the Smart City starts with the Northern SEZ Site of the MMSEZ as a smart precinct, together with the upgrading of the Beitbridge border post and the town of Musina to become an integrated core of the new Smart City.
This core triangle will catalyse a region of smartness and development with upgrades to roads and connectivity that will make the Musina- Makhado corridor the fastest-developing area in Limpopo, South Africa and Southern Africa.
The Smart City Model will be implemented incrementally:
- First step: integrate the Northern Site of the MMSEZ, the Beitbridge border and the Musina town to form the Smart City.
- Second step: upgrade the N1 between Makhado and Beitbridge as part of the Smart City Corridor.
- Third step: promote strategic developments along the N1 Musina-Makhado Smart City corridor.
- Fourth step: renew and regenerate the towns of Musina and Makhado.
- Fifth step: implement the corridors, ensuring connectivity to villages and promote agriculture and tourism, activating the Smart Region.
- Parallel steps: development of roads for connectivity; work on telecommunication coverage; training of communities to use technology in partnership with the institutions of higher learning and through schools; building awareness on zero waste and low-carbon living. The work on the metallurgy complex at the Southern SEZ site will also be undertaken in parallel.
A vibrant partnership with the University of Venda in co-creating the Smart City was launched on 16 September 2021, when the model was unveiled. The next step will be to develop the supply of skills needed for a Smart City and the ongoing operation of the SEZ.