General Manager at Fidelity Life Assurance of Zimbabwe, Gibson Mapfidza said that there is need for provision of a suitable and flexible space for the Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) and the informal sector in order to rejuvenate Harare’s Central Business District (CBD) during the ZimReal Property Investment Forum yesterday.
“There is need for a holistic and collaborative approach to this whole idea involving the City of Harare, property investors and SME and informal sector representative organisations,” Mapfidza said.
“Siting of the SME zones is very important, they should not be ubiquitous as the currently is the case. The SMEs need to appreciate that the property investors are in it for investment gain.”
Besides creating a suitable space for the informal sector, Mapfidza said that there was need of a new thinking to rejuvenate the Harare CBD.
“Firstly, the current urban blight and decay is as a result of a multiple factors that need to be addressed holistically,” Fidelity Manager said.
“At a macro-spatial level, there is need to deal with our Town Planning laws, which are based on the traditional zoning model that separates landuse zones based.”
“In order for rehabilitation or redevelopment to be profitable for the investor, the property use post rehabilitation should be matched with the highest possible use of the site,” Mapfidza said.
The manager went on to say that the most commercial offices in Harare CBD have gone past their effective economic life.
The buildings can be revitalised through rehabilitation according to Mapfidza.
“The attractiveness of the buildings to the corporate occupier is much lower – building have no modern design features – raised floor and ceiling voids to enable networking of data and electrical cables, HVAC equipment and motion sensors, etc,” Mapfidza said.
HVAC stands for Heating, Ventilating, and Air Conditioning
Mapfidza said that there is need to match the permitted use and the highest best possible use of site which encompasses an assortment of uses, mixed use before rehabilitating and retrotting the buildings.
Informal traders have in the past clashed with local authorities over trading in the Harare CBD.
“Property owners have been converting some of their buildings to align with SME requirements, Mapfidza said. “However, the space does not quiet suit the SME operational requirements.”