Will Kampala achieve the ‘smart city’ dream?

Ms Dorothy Kisaka, the executive director of KCCA. PHOTO / FILE

What you need to know:

  • The executive director of KCCA, Ms Dorothy Kisaka, says a smart city campaign is looking at three things; leveraging technology, developing city infrastructure and ensuring organised businesses thrive

The phrase smart city is slowly being adopted by city dwellers.

Whereas technocrats at Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) are looking forward to realising a smart city, some city dwellers have been put in the panic mode, probably because they are not sure of what awaits them.

However, the executive director of KCCA, Ms Dorothy Kisaka, says a smart city campaign is looking at three things; leveraging technology, developing city infrastructure and ensuring organised businesses thrive.

In the area of technology, Ms Kisaka says KCCA has launched various applications that enable citizens to be served better.

“In total, we have 60 Apps and we want to popularise them so city citizens can access quality services using technology. Some of these are the smart permit, you can apply online and get your planning permit, pay revenue online, get your building permit, and get sanitation help using our Weyonje app,” she says.

Infrastructural development is yet another area of focus.   “We have started a system of fence to fence management of our road infrastructure where we do the roads, the walkways, drainages and ensure the scenery is beautiful and visually attractive,” Ms Kisaka says.

The authority also intends to light up the city, markets and public places, minimise pollution and get rid of illegal structures, besides resettling hawkers in different divisions.

“We are requiring the vendors to go back to the market and trade in the spaces that have been created. Business people downtown are going to trading in the right places,” she adds.

Ms Kisaka says the authority is striving to ensure the city is occupied by smart people. “We are saying that citizens have to be conscious of the way we talk, work, act and  think. Right now,  the government is encouraging a mindset that is developmental and getting into the money economy. Your business must be registered so that you can tap the benefits of government,’’ she says.

“We also want to ensure that governance structures such as the councils and the technical wig are serving stakeholders in the city, including the boda boda riders, market vendors, the public transport industry, and the professionals,” she adds.

Ms Kisaka says KCCA is carrying out a census, registration and gazetting stages for boda boda cyclists so that they can run their business in an organised manner.

KCCA is also planning to come up with an ordinance as part of the smart city campaign so as to regulate hawkers.

“They had taken hawking to another level, someone moves with a whole shop. Hawking in its right sense is meeting the needs of people around you with small things that they want to buy quickly buy,” she says.

In addition, KCCA is also focusing at getting the Ghetto group into the money economy. They also wants to create spaces for the youth where they can congregate and learn.

“A smart city campaign is huge. We are popularising it and soon we shall have a smart city expo where we shall talk about it and call upon partners to join,’’ Ms Kisaka says.

She, however, says that before partners come on board, KCCA would use avail resources to kick start the campaign.

Challenge

Ms Kisaka, however, says some of the biggest challenges that awaits the council is bringing everyone on board.

“Resistance from the stakeholders such as boda bodas or some vendors to adopt the smart city campaign is because they think they are being disadvantaged, but we are trying to create something better for everybody,’’ she says. 

The chairman of Kampala City Traders Association, Mr Thadius Musoke Nagenda, welcomes the smart city campaign, saying the traders who spend a lot of money on rent would have the opportunity to sell their merchandise.

“Hawkers affect movement and can facilitate theft. They sell cheaply because they do not pay rent and taxes, and you cannot compete with them. Some of the traders had run away from shops because rent is expensive,’’ he says.

“Our brothers and sisters are going to get a place where they are going to work from. The process should be transparent and faster,’’ he adds.

The chairperson of Kampala Hawkers and Vendors Association, Mr Richard Lubega, appeals to vendors and hawkers to cooperate.

“We are lucky that KCCA is relocating us to market spaces so that we can run our businesses and take care of our families. Please, let us cooperate for our own good,”  he says.

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