Zimbabwe seeks Chinese funding for ‘Disneyland in Africa’


The government is courting China to fund its ‘Disneyland in Africa’, a tourism and conference theme park in the resort town of Victoria Falls, officials said.

The government set aside 300 hectares of land to build a state-of-the-art conference centre to house hotels, businesses, shopping malls, banks and exhibition and entertainment facilities such as casinos near the Victoria Falls International Airport and now seeks investors for the project.

Tourism minister Walter Mzembi recently said government was in negotiations for a $460 million facility for the development the project seen as crucial to boosting tourism.

The permanent secretary Florence Nhekairo yesterday led a visiting Chinese delegation – which is in the country to follow up on agreements signed between China and Zimbabwe last year – to the land near Masue River Bridge, about 10km outside Victoria Falls town and the site for the proposed recreation park and conference centre.

“This is the land where we want to build state-of-the-art conference centre to house conference rooms, hotels, shopping malls, finance houses and many other economic activities. We are looking for people like you (China) to partner government to make our dream come true,” she told the delegation leader Cao Wenlian, who is director of the International Cooperation Centre of the National Development Reform and Commission of China (ICC-NDRC).

The senior principal director in the Office of the President and Cabinet Mary Mubi said the visit to Victoria Falls by the Chinese delegation was meant to identify areas where the Asian country could chip in financially and with technical expertise to develop the resort town into a one stop economic hub.

“We have identified areas which we need to develop as the government and Victoria Falls becomes one that has to be turned into a special economic zone. Government has already made plans to set a tourism hub in Victoria Falls. Our hope is now on the ministers of tourism, transport and that of water to make sure we get more visitors into the country to keep our tourism going,” said Mubi.

Cao said Victoria Falls had potential to be the country’s economic hub.

The conference centre is one of the capital projects the government has lined up in the resort town as it strives to turn it into its conference capital with state of the art facilities.

The other projects are the $150 million refurbishment of Victoria Falls International Airport being funded by the China-Exim Bank.

Meanwhile, transport ministry secretary Munesu Munodawafa said construction of the airport was well within its schedule.

“We are well on schedule and we target to be finished by September. The runway is now 74 percent complete and it will handle heavy category aircraft,” he said.

Also under construction is a control tower, car park, fire station, water reservoir and the VIP pavilion.

Munodawafa said they had already started marketing the airport in anticipation of getting more aircraft coming in.- The Source


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Charles Rukuni
The Insider is a political and business bulletin about Zimbabwe, edited by Charles Rukuni. Founded in 1990, it was a printed 12-page subscription only newsletter until 2003 when Zimbabwe's hyper-inflation made it impossible to continue printing.


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