Farirai Machivenyika Senior Reporter
THE construction of the $80 million Southern Africa regional office of the African Export and Import Bank (Afreximbank) which began in Harare yesterday will help Zimbabwe become a trade hub and service center financial institutions in Africa,” said the bank’s chief administrative officer, Dr. Robert Tomusange.
The groundbreaking ceremony for the complex took place yesterday at an event attended by senior government officials, African diplomats and RBZ officials, among others.
The building will be the second regional office after Nigeria and will be a one-stop-shop focused on promoting trade and related matters. The complex is located in the vacant block bounded by Herbert Chitepo Avenue, Oliver Tambo (Livingstone) Avenue, Seventh Street and Eighth Street, across large Greenwood Park from police headquarters .
It will be a green building and will provide a built-up space of over 35,000 square meters which will house the Southern Africa Regional Office, the Bank’s Emergency Office, a world-class hotel managed by an international hotel operator, a major conference and trade exhibition center and a trade incubation center for start-ups.
Dr. Tomusange said the construction of the office will impact the local economy through job creation with over 20 local contracted entities and a multitude of suppliers among several benefits.
“Beyond the construction, this mall will position Harare as an intra-African trade hub for the Southern African region and we believe will help restore it as an important financial services hub in Africa. and internationally,” he said.
Afreximbank established its office in Zimbabwe in 1997, the first field office since the Bank was established in 1993.
“Since then, the partnership between the bank and the Southern Africa region has grown stronger with significant milestones to accelerate key strategies on trade information and trade services in Africa,” said Dr Tomusange.
“We believe this development will signal to the world that Zimbabwe is indeed open for business. Given its modern and iconic standards, we believe this building will attract a number of international financial institutions, especially those with a trade finance value chain and other development agencies and partners to come to Harare. and to set up their African or regional headquarters located in the same building with the regional office of Afreximbank which is now the leading African business institution that has established itself as the catalyst for Africa’s development.
Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Deputy Governor Dr Jesimen Chipika said the construction of the regional office in Zimbabwe was a testament to Zimbabwe’s efforts to improve the business environment.
“This development is also a testament to our cordial relationship with Afreximbank and we hope that the construction of the regional office will cement our existing relationship.
“We are indebted to Afrixembank who have made funds available, through various facilities, for our economy and all Zimbabweans know how we have been supported in this regard,” Dr Chipika said.
Mr. Avinarsh Sharma, a representative of the main contractor, Shapoonji Sharma, expressed his gratitude for the awarding of the contract to his company and promised to complete the project within 28 months as stipulated in the contract.
The company is also involved in the construction of the 42 km pipeline between the Deka High Lift pumping station and the Hwange power station in Matabeleland North.
Afreximbank is a pan-African multilateral trade finance institution established in 1993 under the auspices of the African Development Bank. It is headquartered in Cairo, Egypt. Afreximbank’s vision is to be the trade finance bank for Africa.