The Tanzania Times
Eastern Africa News Network

Proposed ‘Smart City’ adjacent to Serengeti may actually save the famous National Park

A new smart city is soon coming up in the Serengeti District. The modern urban centre is going to eclipse even Arusha

According to officials, the new city is being proposed to be among the strategies aimed at changing the lifestyles of local residents from their previous small-scale hunting activities and adopting modern way of living.

“But prior to that we need to involve local residents and their respective authorities,” the Serengeti District Commissioner, Dr Vincent Mashinji, stated while addressing journalists in Mugumu township.

Apparently Serengeti District residents have been facing acute shortage of land for both settlement and farming.

Dr Mashinji said a study revealed the 2,300-square-kilometre area inhabited by 300,000 people was in dire need for proper land use planning.

“The Serengeti District Council had already formed and registered a company to implement the project along with a US investor who will put up road and water infrastructure!”

Known as the Serengeti Development Company the firm has so far raised Euros 5 billion from different organizations for the initial phase of executing the project which eventually may gobble up over 500 billion Euros.

This new city will provide new settlement for residents as well as form alternative economic activities for the locals and this will essentially relieve the adjacent Serengeti National Park the pressures of irresponsible human activities, trespassing and encroachment.

Poaching and invasive species are among major challenges facing the Serengeti, which is Tanzania’s third biggest National Park but the country’s most visited tourist destination.

Government spokesperson, Mobhare Matinyi recently revealed that the third biggest park in the country has so far attracted over 1.4 million tourists in the current fiscal year 2023/2024.

The national park is also estimated to generate over 12 percent of the USD 86 billion worth of gross domestic product, making Tanzania one of the top 10 countries with highest GDP in Africa.

Some observers believe investing in conservation would actually generate a hefty income to Tanzania compared to dividends accrued from the extractive industry which ends up destroying the environment.

The Serengeti District’s proposal for the construction of the Euros 598 billion worth city to redefine the lifestyle of its residents is at final stages of being approved by relevant authorities, including environmentalists.

As a result of the belated approval, the Serengeti Development Company has been incurring a loss amounting to 0.01 per cent in its profit to be accrued from the project as stipulated in the agreement it penned with the investor.

According to the agreement, while the Serengeti Development Company will contribute in kind to the project to be owned jointly, the investor will contribute in cash to the same.

District Commissioner, Dr Mashinji said he believed the project would redefine the Serengeti nativity and create several employment opportunities for the youth in the district.

“When the youth are kept busy, they will ignore hunting and conflicts pitting villages and Serengeti National Park will decline if not disappear completely,” he said. 

The DC defended residents of the district saying they were not poachers, but rather hunters, a lifestyle with which the colonial government had interfered when it created the national park in 1959.

“Most of the poachers arrested are from neighbouring districts and Kenya,” said Dr Mashinji, stressing that focus on the antipoaching drive alone might not work.

He said the district was also promoting markets for alternative sources of side dishes to discourage hunting and that entrepreneurs, particularly women, were gradually investing in fish trade.

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