Zimbabwe: The Sweet Business of Harare’s Airport Road

Zimbabwe: The Sweet Business of Harare's Airport Road
Harare, Zimbabwe

AFRICANGLOBE – As part of a deal that Harare city council signed for the construction of a highway to the airport, the city is having to expand so it can award new land to the contractors.

The contract says the city can pay for part of the $80m project in land, but Harare has run out of space.

As a result it is re-designating agricultural land nearby.

Signed in 2009, the public-private partnership is a sweet one for Augur Investments, backed by Ukrainian investor oleksandr sheremet.

Zimbabwean businessman Ken sharpe, whose West Group has a 50 percent stake in Augur, says it has so far been paid $20m, which includes a 134ha parcel.

He says the government has identified another 270ha, worth about $20m, in the affluent suburb of Borrowdale North.

That should help to finish resurfacing the existing road, which sharpe says will be completed by August.

In order to pay for bridges and flyovers to link the road to Harare’s Central Business district, Augur is eyeing another block of 4,000ha on Mount Hampden to build a new city.

The deal has been mired in controversy, especially over the role of local government minister Ignatius Chombo in agreeing to it.

“We’ve got a sweet deal,” admits sharpe.

“Currently the land is undervalued… but the situation is a win-win. Government has the land, no-one’s doing anything on it.

“Yes, they’re giving it to us, but they’re getting a world-class highway in return. We still have to develop the land.”

In the next few months Augur is planning to start construction of a $100m shopping mall on part of the land it has already received