Cletus Mushanawani Mashonaland Central Bureau Chief
Mbire Rural District Council councillors last week gave the nod to a United States of America-based company, Zura Consulting, to invest US$160 million in a multi-model logistic hub in Kanyemba, which is expected to create 2 500 jobs.
Zura Consulting, which has a subsidiary in Southern Africa and is a leading service provider and supplier in the logistics, energy and development fields, applied for the project which will link Zimbabwe and its neighbouring countries, Zambia and Mozambique.
The project will change the face of one of the least developed districts in Zimbabwe — Mbire.
Once completed, it will also enhance trade between Zimbabwe and its two neighbours — Zambia and Mozambique — as well as countries in the Central African region.
The logistic hub will also provide a shorter alternative route to Chirundu Border Post as it has the capacity to handle more traffic.
When it commences, the project will have two phases, with US$10 million being injected in the first phase.
The first phase, with a time frame of 18 months, will see the installation of a ferry, as well as the improvement of the landing bay which is being constructed by the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure Development.
A solar plant will be erected to power the border area, while a fuel depot will be constructed to ensure constant supplies of fuel to the ferry.
The ferry, which is called RORO (Roll On, Roll Off), will be the first of its kind in Africa as it has the capacity to ferry both bulk goods and people simultaneously across the Zambezi River.
It can carry up to 30×30-tonne trucks at once.
The second phase, which has a budget of US$150 million, will see the installation of additional ferries, expansion of the fuel depot, designation of special economic zones, construction of a polytechnic and provision of information technology facilities.
The project has a time frame of 24 months.
Plans are also in place to upgrade Kanyemba Border Post to a 24-hour facility as it is anticipated to handle more traffic and goods once its road network is upgraded to world class standards as work on road construction is already underway.
In an interview in Mbire last Friday, council chief executive Mr Claudius Nyahuma Majaya, said the investment in Kanyemba is part of their efforts to market the once-marginalised district.
“We received an application from Zura Consulting, seeking to invest in Kanyemba and we have since taken them to the area,” he said.
“As a district, we have put in place measures to ensure that we attract investment in Kanyemba. The coming in of Zura was a result of the aggressive marketing strategy that we have in place to try and promote investment in Kanyemba in particular and the district as a whole. We are taking Kanyemba as the hallmark that we will run with.
“Yes, Zura have interests in Kanyemba, but we expect their investment to spread across the district. The project we are looking at is quiet huge in terms of investment.
“We are looking at an investment of about US$160 million and that is good for our people and the province as a whole.”
Mr Nyahuma said the project will help revive the Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Zambia (ZIMOZA) trade initiative.
“The project is going to look at issues of enhancing trade between Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Zambia,” he said.
“This is almost a revival of the ZIMOZA initiative we had earlier on, which was not fulfilled since the Memorandum of Understanding was not signed.
“We have started the initiative to have it signed. The benefits that we intended to accrue from the ZIMOZA initiative can now be revisited so that our people can start benefiting.”
Zura Consulting managing director Mr Thulani Mpofu said they were excited that they were given the nod to embark on the Kanyemba project.
“We are excited about the project since it will bring a lot of opportunities to Mashonaland Central and Zimbabwe at large,” he said.
“The project will unlock trade between Zimbabwe, Zambia and Mozambique. We are excited about the opportunity for us to come in and assist Government’s vision of facilitating regional trade.
“There is a lot of traction now for us to get things on the ground and to start working. We hope it will unlock real value in Kanyemba and give the locals opportunities to maximise their potential. As Zura, we have people waiting in line to start working on the project.”
Acting Mashonaland Central provincial development co-ordinator Mr Cosmas Chiringa urged Mbire RDC to take advantage of its climatic conditions which are similar to those of Victoria Falls and Kariba, to lure more investors.
“You should fully utilise the climatic conditions here to lure more investors,” he said.
“You should also harness the abundant water in Zambezi River to improve people’s lives.
“Our quest is to see a developed Kanyemba attaining town status in the shortest possible future. We want serious investors here for us to attain Vision 2030 of middle-class economy.”