By Nkululeko Sibanda
Zimre Property Investments will spend US$13 million on the construction of a new shopping mall in the resort town of Victoria Falls in Matabeleland North province.
Preliminary works on Sawanga Shopping Mall are already underway on an approximately 5 000 square metres land.
The mall will have 23 shops with a major retailer, Pick n Pay, as one of the anchor shops, among others.
ZPI senior executive Steven Kapfunde told the businessdigest this week that the investment would also create jobs for people in the resort town.
“The total expected cost is US$13 million and construction is expected to be completed by December 2018.
Construction progress is on target to achieve this”, Kapfunde said.
“Insofar as jobs and job creation, currently there are about 125 people employed on site and we expect this to increase to approximately 400 people as the project peaks.
“In terms of creating employment, we expect the mall to generate at least 450 jobs both directly and indirectly post construction.”
He added the mall would boost the resort town as it would house financial services players that had become the missing link in the tourism value chain in the resort town.
“Victoria Falls is an investment destination; for the mall was informed by several factors, amongst them were the attraction of the town as an Export Processing Zone in the financial cluster, thus we see the resort as a future financial services capital of Zimbabwe and the region,” he said.
Kapfunde said ZPI had heeded government’s call for players across the board to work together to ensure that Victoria Falls grows to meet the ever-increasing services demand that has been brought about by the surge in visitors to the resort town.
Statistics show the country’s tourism sector is poised for a 20% boom in 2018, with projections indicating the southern African country would record about 2,5 million visitors by year end.
“We felt the need to complement government efforts in reviving and growing the tourism industry hence the need to create a world-class shopping experience commensurate with expected international standards at the same time without losing the local identity,” he said.
Kapfunde said the mall would have world-class facilities that will also benefit residents of Victoria Falls and tourists.
“In itself, the mall should be a tourist destination at the same time being consistent with all major tourist destinations.
There should be world class shopping facilities for both international visitors and locals.
“This, we believe, will ensure tourists coming to see the mighty Victoria Falls, also spend as much as possible, thus increase the country’s foreign currency earnings.
“For the locals, we believe the mall will create repose for families on holiday particularly parents with children and a great place for entertainment.”
Businesses are expected to tap into the traffic that will flow to Victoria Falls from areas such as Angola, DRC, Zambia, Botswana and Namibia.
“This is expected to be even more enlarged with the completion of the Kazungula Bridge thus as a city, Victoria Falls will offer strategic springboard into these various markets,” Kapfunde said.