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Zambia Ex-Finance Minister Bets the Farm on Property Project

Wednesday, 10 Dec 2014 11:13 AM

Former Zambian Finance Minister Situmbeko Musokotwane is betting the family farm on a real estate boom in Africa's second-biggest copper producer.

If the plan comes to fruition, the Musokotwane's 3,100 acre (1,250-hectare) property east of the capital, Lusaka, will be transformed by a $1.5 billion development with 8,800 houses, a university, shopping mall and business park. The venture, called Nkwashi, aims to take advantage of a housing shortage in Zambia that the government estimates at as much as 3 million.

"It's a big number," Mwiya Musokotwane, managing partner at Thebe Investment Management, which is running the project, said in an interview in Lusaka, referring to the shortfall in homes. Thebe is controlled by Musokotwane family.

Their former coffee plantation and cattle ranch will be turned into a development similar in size to other large, mixed- used real-estate projects underway in countries including Nigeria, Kenya and South Africa, according to Mwiya, who is the former minister's son.

Nkwashi is intended to be Zambia's biggest real-estate project. It will include a $650 million not-for-profit university that Thebe plans to fund through an endowment backed by donors in North America, Europe and Asia, said Musokotwane, a former investment analyst.

Thebe is seeking investors for the shopping mall and business park planned for Nkwashi, Musokotwane said in the Dec. 8 interview. Investors from Turkey and South Africa have expressed interest in the shopping mall and business park, he said, without naming any.

Soccer Stadium

Thebe's own investment in the project won't exceed $60 million and will mainly be spent on the site's roads, electricity, water and sewerage, he said.

Buyers of the residential plots will fund construction of their own houses, with Thebe helping them get loans, said Musokotwane, whose father was finance minister from 2008 to 2011 in Zambia.

Louis Karol Architects, designers of the Cape Town stadium that that hosted a semi-final in the 2010 FIFA Soccer World Cup, are the the lead architects for Nkwashi, he said.

Zambia has a housing deficit of about 3 million units, Emmanuel Chenda, local government and housing minister said in May. Habitat for Humanity International in Oct. estimated the shortage at about 2.8 million.

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Former Zambian Finance Minister Situmbeko Musokotwane is betting the family farm on a real estate boom in Africa's second-biggest copper producer.
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2014-13-10
Wednesday, 10 Dec 2014 11:13 AM
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