EMA stalls Afreximbank project

TINASHE MAKICHI

The proposed construction of the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank)’s southern Africa regional head office in the capital Harare’s Newlands suburb is in limbo after the Environmental Management Agency (EMA) is said to have raised grave concerns over its potential environmental impact.

The construction of the proposed complex, which is expected to house Afreximbank’s regional head office, provide an integrated one stop shop for trade facilitation and information services as well as trade finance, at a 12 000m² land was supposed to commence last year.

But Business Times is informed that EMA raised concerns saying the construction site was a wetland.

A year after government donated the piece of land to Afreximbank, the project has not taken off the ground.

“Construction of the centre is being held up for nearly a year because EMA is raising environmental concerns,” a well-placed source told Business Times.

He added: “The contractors are of the opinion that this is not a wetland and efforts to get an alternative site are dragging. 

There is fear that the bank may end up relocating their plans.”

Afreximbank’s regional chief operating officer, Humphrey Nwugo, declined to comment referring all questions to the government.

“I cannot discuss the matter with you at the moment, it is a government matter,” Nwugo said.

EMA spokesperson Amkela Sidanke told Business Times that the proposed construction of Afreximbank head office requires an Environmental Impact Assessment.

“The Agency confirms receipt of application for the construction of Afreximbank Head Office in Zimbabwe in conformity to environmental compliance regulations and the application is still going through the necessary processes pending final position on it.

“The Agency as mandated would advise the applicant on site suitability after going through all necessary processes,” Sidanke said.

In 2017, the Zimbabwe government donated land to Afreximbank to build its complex in Newlands, which would house its head office and a trade centre.

According to the plan, the proposed trade centre would also offer corporate office space, a conference and exhibition centre, innovation and incubation hub and a knowledge centre.

Afreximbank remains Zimbabwe’s major financier and has in recent years, provided facilities to both the government and the private sector worth billions of dollars.

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