Chinese to fund Harare International Airport expansion

THE Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure Development has opened negotiations with China Exim Bank to fund the upgrading and extension of Harare International Airport, as the country pursues construction of new infrastructure to spur economic growth.

The upgrading of Harare International Airport follows the recent commissioning of the new Victoria Falls International Airport, which was financed by the Chinese to the tune of $155 million.

Transport minister Joram Gumbo confirmed the ministry was in talks with the Chinese.

“The development is in our plans and we are talking with the Chinese about the funding. However, at the moment I cannot discuss further details or the quantum of the funding that we are seeking,” Gumbo said.

Harare airport is set to join the ranks of Joshua Nkomo International Airport and Victoria Falls International Airport that have been upgraded in the past five years. The upgrade in the case of Victoria Falls has seen an increase of direct flights to the resort town. The airport can now accommodate wide-bodied long haul aircrafts.

Documents in NewsDay’s possession show that negotiations commenced some time ago and Treasury was now handling them and a deal is imminent.

“The loan documents have been submitted to the minister of Finance and Economic Development, executives of China Exim Bank have already visited the country to assess the project and hold meetings with government and Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe,” the document read in part.

The document also showed that the Chinese were the funders.

“Following the successful implementation of the new Victoria Falls Airport, my ministry has commenced plans to construct the upgrading and extension of Harare International Airport through extension of the Chinese Exim Bank loan,” Gumbo said in the report.

The Chinese have funded not only the upgrading of the Victoria Falls airport but also built a National Defence College in deals worth nearly $250 million. Zimbabwe mortgaged the Marange diamonds for the two deals and it remained unclear what will be used this time to guarantee the loans by the government.

The Chinese were also currently funding the Kariba South hydro-power station and the dualisation of the Harare-Chirundu highway.

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