THE construction of African Export–Import Bank Africa Trade Centre (AATC) head office in Harare is taking shape with detailed designs for the project already drawn while construction is expected to start in the third quarter of this year.
The project is expected to be complete by 2025 and will make Harare a vital centre for the delivery of the promise of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (ACfTA).
African Export–Import Bank, also referred to as Afreximbank, headquartered in Cairo, Egypt is a multilateral trade finance institution whose vision is to be the trade finance bank for the continent. Afreximbank regional chief operating officer Humphrey Nwugo said the bank’s offices will house the bank’s southern Africa regional office.
“Detailed design has commenced and is progressing in earnest for the AATC Harare project with construction earmarked for the third quarter of 2022.
Competition is expected by 2025.
“Construction is for AATC, which will also house the bank’s southern Africa regional office, that constitutes part of a larger strategic programme to develop the bank’s regional offices and headquarters into a network of AATCs,” Nwugo told the Zimbabwe Independent.
“The current estimate is that the total project cost will be close to US$100 million, though final numbers are currently being finalised. The Harare AATC shall offer 30 000 square metres of build space consisting of prime corporate office space, a four-star hotel, conferencing facilities, trade information facilities, as well as a tech incubation lab plus associated amenities,” Nwugo said.
“This trade centre will be ultra-modern, iconic, with one-stop-shop landmark facilities to house all related services.”
The Harare regional office covers the bank’s operations in 13 countries in southern Africa.
The bank is also looking at constructing an office which will be catalytic in terms of foreign direct investment and development impact on the economy of Zimbabwe.
The AATC programme was regarded as a platform to promote trade information and access to critical services necessary to the realisation and implementation of the AfCFTA.
The bank envisions bringing together a number of related global financial and development institutions to set up representative offices in these trade centres.
“Zimbabwe and the Sadc region will benefit immensely from the development through the FDI, employment creation for the construction industry and downstream business.
Furthermore, the AATC will make Harare an intra-African trade hub for the southern African region and help to restore Harare as an important financial services centre,” Nwugo added.
The AATC in Harare will be one of the first such establishments on the continent.
Afreximbank support programmes to Zimbabwe also include the US$150 million line of credit facility to enable commercial banks process the imports of some essential goods among other notable projects.
The bank comes with strong credentials regarding Zimbabwe, noting that, over the past 20 years, it has disbursed more than US$7 billion to Zimbabwean entities in the public and private sectors without suffering any credit losses.