Nqobile Tshili, Chronicle Reporter
A multi-million dollar four-star hotel and a 5 000-seater conference centre is set to be constructed in Victoria Falls after Cabinet approved the implementation of the Masuwe Special Economic Zone project following a feasibility study that found the scheme to be highly profitable.
Under the same project, medical tourism facilities, a golf estate and a shopping mall will be constructed in the area.
Victoria Falls is one of the country’s top tourism destinations due the water falls, one of the world’s seven wonders and the proximity to Hwange National Park.
Environment, Climate, Tourism and Hospitality Industry Minister Nqobizitha Mangaliso Ndlovu yesterday briefed Cabinet on feasibility study progress that was made in the development of Masuwe Special Economic Zone by the Mosi-oa-Tunya Development Company.
Briefing the media after the Cabinet meeting yesterday, Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Service Minister Monica Mutsvangwa said findings from the feasibility study have proven that the project is viable.
She said the Mosi-oa-Tunya Development Company (MOTDC) is a special purpose vehicle which was mandated to spearhead the construction of a conference facility which hosted the United Nations World Tourism Organisation General Assembly in 2013.
Minister Mutsvangwa said in August 2020, Cabinet broadened the mandate of the company to cover tourism infrastructure development in Victoria Falls.
She sida a feasibility study was conducted and it has been proven that it can generate over US$50 million in profits.
“The company subsequently entered into a Joint Venture Partnership with Old Mutual Life Assurance Company for financing a Feasibility Study for the development of backbone infrastructure for the Masuwe Special Economic Zone, measuring 1 200 hectares,” she said.
“The feasibility study appraisal indicated that the development project is viable, with an acceptable profit margin of US$57 696 447 which is 15,5 percent and 18,2 percent of gross development value and development cost, respectively.”
Minister Mutsvangwa said Government will implement the project in two phases.
“Phase One entails construction of bulk water supply systems for the entire Masuwe Special Economic Zone and development of internal water, sanitation, roads and storm water drains at an estimated total cost of US$120 million,” said Minister Mutsvangwa.
“Phase Two will witness the development of the remaining 930 hectares at approximately US$85 million. The overall estimated project implementation period is 24 months. Mosi-oa-Tunya Development Company moved to Victoria Falls in April 2022, and this is expected to accelerate project implementation and to promote tourism development in the greater Victoria Falls area.”
She said according to the plan, Old Mutual Life Assurance Company will construct a four-star hotel with a 5 000-seater conference facility; medical tourism facilities; a golf estate and a shopping mall on land which Government will allocate.
“The project will comply with all relevant environmental statutes, including the use of solar to provide clean energy,” she said.
Minister Mutsvangwa said Government will be the majority shareholder in the project.
“The Masuwe area has been declared a Special Economic Zone in order to ensure that the project raises funds for self-financing. A Master Plan will be developed in order to guide implementation of the project. Government will maintain a shareholding on every portion of the land earmarked for development projects in Victoria Falls,” said Minister Mutsvangwa. — @nqotshili