The Zimbabwe Agricultural Society(Z.A.S) is set to construct a $100 million Hotel and Convention Centre with a seating capacity of 15 000 guests at their Business Hub in Harare. Addressing stakeholders at the launch of the Convention Centre and Hotel today, ZAS Chief Executive Offcer, Dr Anxious Masuka said the development follows the City of Harare Local Development Plan Review No 42 of 2006’s allowance for showground re-zoning to Public Buildings. “The City of Harare Local Development Plan Review No 42 of 2006, undertaken at the instigation of the Zimbabwe Agricultural Society brought vitality to showgrounds as they were known then by transforming them into an Exhibition Park.
“This followed the LDP42’s allowance foe showground rezoning to Public Buildings(Other and the designation of a commercial area.The commercial area is now the site of the fuel station and the proposed shopping mall. “That Local Development Plan is what has brought us here,in that plan we said this society will be so relevant to the economic development of Zimbabwe specifcally to Harare’s attainment of the world class city status to an extent that we had to look for something that is suffciently magnanimous in outlook and would meet with current and future expectations,” he said. He added that the Convention Centre will double the current sitting capacity of the biggest convention centre in Zimbabwe.
“This is why the Zimbabwe Convention Centre was mooted, it will comprise a 15 000 sitter auditorium, just to highlight that the current sitting capacity of the biggest convention centre in Zimbabwe is somewhere in the region of about 7000,” said Masuka. In an interview with 263Chat on the sidelines of the launch, Minister of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing July Moyo welcomed the development saying it came at time when there is a shortage of hotel rooms in the country.
“The build up environment is changing in Zimbabwe, hotel and conferencing has to move faster,hotel rooms in Zimbabwe are in short supply in the country and we believe that what the Zimbabwe Agricultural Society is doing changes the skyline for Harare as well as the agricultural show business. “We have been talking to them together with the mayor to say all the way from the Kopje to the residential areas here if there was a concept to design properly done which is futuristic, it can start telling us how Harare is going to develop outside our normal CBD area where we want to de-congest the CBD areas of our cities and this is why we are doing this,” said Moyo.
Mayor Cllr Ben Manyenyeni and the Minister of Local Government Hon. July Moyo offciated at the groundbreaking ceremony of the Zimbabwe Convention Centre at the Harare Showgrounds on Wednesday. The centre will comprise of a hotel, 15000 seated conference centre and a business hub. Speaking to reporters after the ceremony Moyo said: With the demands in Harare, hotel and conferencing has to change even faster. Hotel rooms in the country are in short supply right now and we believe that what Zimbabwe Agricultural society is doing here, changes the skyline in the Harare city area as well as the Agricultural show business.
And we believe that infrastructure development is a catalyst for the development of the country and when the president says Zimbabwe is open for business, that business cannot exist unless we as Zimbabweans investing in infrastructure which includes your built-up environment, roads, sewerage, water systems including your electricity… We have been conversing together with the mayor to say all the way from the Kopje to residential areas, if there was a concept design properly done which is futuristic, which wil start telling us how Harare is going to develop outside our normal CBD area. In as far as investment to assist with the yawning infrastructure investment defcit gap, said loans, foreign direct investment and resource mobilisation through vehicles such as pension funds had not happening for the past 15 to 20 years, Zimbabwe is now looking at foreign and domestic investors to deal with the gap.
Moyo added that the foreign investor was a critical component in mobilising foreign currency so that projects would move faster. Moyo said his government has needed to intervene in upgrading roads in cities. That is not to say the cities have naturally failed but because delayed maintenance is capitalised. The upgrading of infrastructure is critical to attracting investors, he said. As for where the the investment has come from: In the old days we used to rely on World Bank, IMF, African Development Bank or on bilaterals such as DFID for infrastructure support, but now the private sector is also coming in large numbers.
Manyenyni said: The trajectory [for Harare] is steep. We have a catch-up game to play. We are looking at no less than ten of these [convention centres] in the next ten years. The last hotel went up maybe 25 years ago, so you can imagine the gap that we have to catch up on.So as a city we are an enabler and a facilitator. We are so delighted to be in partnership with the Agricultural Society on this particular one. But we also invite others to fll up this gap. The conferencing opportunities for this country and this city in particular are so high, they can only be met by supporting services.
Text and renders by ZAS