Footsteps Through Time

Footsteps Through Time
A History of Travel and Tourism to the Victoria Falls - - click image to visit site

Wednesday, 25 April 2018

'Construction of New Hotel in Vic Falls to Start Soon'

Zimbabwe's world renowned resort, the Victoria Falls will soon have a new five star hotel and a conference centre whose construction is set to begin by mid-year, a Cabinet minister has said.
Tourism and Hospitality Industry Minister Priscah Mupfumira told journalists at her maiden interface with the media since appointment last December that the construction of the hotel and conference centre were part of initiatives under government plans to drive new investment under the special economic zones (SEZs) initiative.
There was a lot of interest from investors keen on setting up new tourism ventures in the country since the new government came into office last November, the minister said.
"Because of the new dispensation and engagements we are undertaking, there are many people who are showing interest in investing in tourism. Soon, before the end of the year, or even before our elections, works should have started in Victoria Falls on a conference centre and a five star hotel," she said without revealing the name of the investor.
Zimbabwe is due to hold its elections in July.
Government has designated SEZs in Harare, Bulawayo and Victoria Falls under a project meant to ramp up investment in the economy through offering special conditions which allow investors to set up shop in the country with minimum hustle and a wide range of benefits.
Minister Mupfumira said construction of a new hotel would augur well for the economy as the country was in need of new rooms, with the expected influx of tourists.
"We do not have enough rooms in the area (Victoria Falls) with the influx of tourists that we are recording," she said.
"We know by the end of this year, we will almost double the arrivals that we had last year so we need investments in Victoria Falls."
Zimbabwe has in the past few years been averaging two million visitors annually.
Minister Mupfumira said the designated SEZ for the Victoria Falls did not just focus on the resort town only but this stretched from Hwange to Kariba.
She said the ministry was in the process of reviewing the national tourism strategy with a view to addressing some of the bottlenecks and challenges the industry was battling with to drive arrivals and the sector's contribution to the country's gross domestic product.
High product prices compared to the region and connectivity were some of the top challenges cited as impacting on performance of the industry.
"We have underplayed the role of tourism where it is placed third or fourth in terms of earnings, we want to be the leader in contributing to our Gross Domestic Product and turnaround of the economy," said Minister Mupfumira. - New Ziana.
Source: 'Construction of New Hotel in Vic Falls to Start Soon' (24/04/18)

Saturday, 21 April 2018

Vic Falls Tourist Arrivals Surge 20,7pc

Victoria Falls continues to be dominant as the country's major tourist attraction centre after recording 20,7 percent rise in arrivals during Easter Holidays compared to the same period last year.
Statistics from the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management (Zimparks), show that arrivals rose to 6 147 this year compared to 4 877 last year.
International tourist arrivals rose "exponentially" this year to 2 643 from 2 200 over the same period last year. The number of visitors from across the continent, particularly the Southern region, also increased to almost 1 500 from 977 last year.
Due to a rise in campaigns to promote domestic tourism, local visitors to the Victoria Falls also rose to 2 004 from 1 700 last year.
Zimparks public relations manager Tinashe Farawo, told The Herald Business recently that the surge in arrivals at the majestic Victoria Falls has been driven by political stability.
Mr Farawo said there is policy consistency in Government and a strong desire to support the tourism sector, which is seen as central to quick economic turnaround.
"One of the reasons why we have recorded this increase in arrivals is the political stability that we are witnessing in the country, and the willingness of this Government to ensure that tourism is prioritised as a low hanging fruit, as something which can benefit this country," said Mr Farawo.
"We have had a lot of support from the President (Emmerson Mnangagwa) himself, the Minister (of Tourism and Hospitality Industry Prisca Mupfumira) to ensure that we record such successes.
"Obviously, we are happy with these figures and we look forward to see the numbers continuing to grow going forward because this Government is speaking with one voice to say, 'let's make Zimbabwe open for business' and be attractive to everyone so that we grow our economy."
Zimbabwe expects tourist arrivals to rise to 2,5 million this year from 2,1 million last year, driven by several factors including political stability and the domestic tourism campaign. Hoteliers are already re-modelling their operations by introducing specials for both food and hotel rooms, as they seek to liberalise access mainly by the low income earners.
In the African context, walking into a hotel, let alone purchasing food and spending a night there, used to be associated with rich businesspeople and foreigners.
But all that is changing now due to interventions by Government.
In the last 18 years, tourist arrivals have plummeted from the peak of almost 2,5 million in 1999 to 1,9 million in 2008 due to bad blood between Zimbabwe and its major source markets, especially in Europe.
Source: Vic Falls Tourist Arrivals Surge 20,7pc (20/04/18)

Friday, 20 April 2018

Plans for 125 MW solar plant in Zimbabwe’s Victoria Falls

Zimbabwe-based Southpole Consulting Private Limited has filed an authorization request with the Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Authority (ZERA) for the construction of a 125 MW solar power plant in Victoria Falls.
According to information provided to pv magazine by the company, the project has primarily been conceived for self-consumption and, in particular, to supply power to the company’s data center and a commuter rail electrification project.
The facility may also sell power regionally through the grid to the local industrial district via private PPAs, since it will be located in the proximity (18 km) of the planned regional Zizabona inter-connector. The inter-connector aims to increase energy trade between Zimbabwe, Zambia, northern Malawi and north-eastern Mozambique, where the company forecasts substantial aligned investment.
A special purpose vehicle for the project, SouthPole StalwartBuild Zimbabwe PL, has already been approved for US$300 million of initial Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) investment by the Zimbabwe Investment Authority (ZIA). The financing will be used for the construction of the plant, ICT, road and rail infrastructures within the Victoria Falls Special Economic Zone (SEZ).
Southpole said it aims to build the plant as an independent power producer, with no direct support from the government or other local public authorities. Construction on the plant, the company added, may begin in the second half of this year. “We are already in talks with module and inverter providers, as well as with potential EPC contractors,” company director, Tendai Tidings Musasa said.
According to Musasa, in addition to the aforementioned regional power inter-connectivity, the SEZ offers attractive tax incentives, which have enabled Southpole to attract international financing and technical partners.
The area – offering one of the highest solar irradiation indexes in a country with above average irradiation of 5.7kWh per square meter, per day – is poised to be a strong regional power interconnection platform, thanks to the upcoming 2,400 MW Batoka Gorge Hydro – Electric Scheme (HES) and a planned 1,250 MW PV development for regional consumption over the next seven years, the company said.
According to local newspaper, Chronicle, last year the ZERA issued licenses to nine IPP projects with a combined capacity of 260 MW, including six for solar power plants, two for mini-hydro projects, and one for a hybrid solar-diesel project.
Resorting to IPPs for renewable energy development can be viewed as a necessary move by the government, since it has failed to bring online several hundred MWs of solar capacity through different tenders, and through different policies that promote the adoption and wider use of renewable energy.
In 2014, Zimbabwe’s State Procurement Board (SBP) cancelled a tender for 300 MW of solar, after it judged the prices offered by the three selected developers as too high. Since then, several large-scale solar projects have been announced across the country, although no big solar park has been connected to the local grid to date.
The country, which has a remarkable level of solar irradiation at 20 MJ per square meter per day, is in urgent need of more power generation capacity, as it suffers from chronic energy shortages, due to the current poor conditions of the network.
According to a recent report from the Dutch government, just 21% of Zimbabwe’s rural areas have access to electricity, while this reaches  80% in urban areas. The country’s current total installed capacity is estimated at around 2 GW, of which 58% is thermal and 37% is hydropower.

Wednesday, 18 April 2018

AfDB provides support for Batoka Hydroelectric project

The African Development Bank (AfDB) is advising on how funds can be secured for the construction of the 2,400MW Batoka Gorge Hydroelectric Power Project to commence.
Public relations and communications manager at the Zambezi River Authority (ZRA), Elizabeth Karonga, stated that the bank is advising the authority on raising funds for the project and it is likely that it will reach financial closure by the end of the year.
According to the Southern Times, Karonga said the engineering and legal assessments for the power plant were successfully carried out in 2016.
“The legal and financial advisory studies were completed end of July 2016. This also applies to the environmental and social impact assessment studies as well as the legal and financial advisory studies,” Karonga said.
Karonga said studies have shown that 6,000 jobs will be created once the construction of the Batoka Hydroelectric Project between Zambia and Zimbabwe commences.
The project is estimated to cost $4 billion. 
Media noted that the project has faced resistance from local communities, who felt that it had the potential of negatively impacting the Victoria Falls.
However, the chief executive officer of the ZRA, Munyaradzi Munodawafa, said feasibility studies undertaken on the site have allayed environmental fears to the Victoria Falls, which is upstream.
“The reservoir will be fully contained in the gorge, no resettlement is required for the dam, but may be required for the transmission aspects of the project,” said Munodawafa.

Batoka Gorge Hydro to hire experts to save falcon bird

BATOKA Gorge Hydro-Electric Scheme (BGHES) has resolved to hire ornithologists to help conserve the Taita Falcon birds from extinction along the Zambezi River basin.

This was revealed last week by BGHES engineer, Christopher Chinsense, indicating that scientific environmental evidence has been carried out and proved that the avifauna birds existed, but was fast disappearing due to human activity in the Zambezi River.
He said the general decline in the population of Taita Falcon since 1995 has been attributed to flooding of reservoirs.
“Batoka Gorge area is listed under Important Bird Area (IBA) of the continental significance by Childes and Mundy 2001 based on the on the presence of breeding Taita Falcons (Falco fasciinucha), a threatened and range restricted species.
“And that being the case, we will have minor challenges, but mitigatory measures are being put in place. The Taita Falcon has been enlisted and the most delicate species and fast disappearing in the world and we have been strongly cautioned against being contributors of it disappearing,” he said.
“We have put up measures to implement the Taita Falcon monitoring programme and ornithologist specialists will be fully involved in experimental creation of artificial nestling facilities for these few birds on the dam wall and in the cliffs in suitable areas that do not jeopardise natural nestling habitat.”
The project’s chief executive, Munyaradzi Munodawafa said approximately two million jobs will be created during the seven-year construction period and priority will be given to locals sin the Zambezi River environs.
He added that international, regional and local contractors had since sent their application forms and vetting process was underway.
BGHES was proposed back 1992 by Zimbabwe and Zambia with a memorandum of agreement signed in 2012 to pave way for its development which is likely to begin next year at an estimated cost of $3 602 858.

Monday, 16 April 2018

Drunk man survives plunge into croc-infested Zambezi River

Nozwelo Hadebe, Chronicle Reporter

A 26-YEAR-OLD Victoria Falls man is lucky to be alive after he jumped into the infested Zambezi River in a suspected suicide attempt while in a drunken stupor.

An alert barman took a dive after Mr Tinashe Ronald Chigiya (26) of House Number 985 Aerodrome and rescued him.

Witnesses said he started hallucinating while claiming that his late brother was calling him into the water on Friday.

Police confirmed the incident which occurred at Zambezi House Restaurant and bar, located on the river bank.

Mr Chigiya was drinking beer with friends when he allegedly suddenly left the bar and headed for the river and jumped into the water.

Witnesses said he told his friend Mr Geneva Museka that he was seeing visions before heading for the river.

“He has Zambezi House barman Mr Themba Satsha to thank or rather blame for foiling the suicide mission, after the brave bartender timeously took a suicidal dive into the water and fished him out,” said a witness.

Police officer commanding Victoria Falls District Chief Superintendent Jairos Chiwona said Mr Chigiya was rushed to Victoria Falls District Hospital. He could not give more details.

“I can confirm that we received such a report and investigations are going on,” he said.
A police source said Mr Chigiya was attended to and discharged after being stabilised from intoxication.

A source narrated the incident: “Tinashe was drinking beer with friends at Zambezi House when he suddenly jumped into the water at around 1.00AM. An alert barman quickly dived into the water and pulled him out risking his own life in the crocodile and hippo infested river.”

Mr Chigiya was lucky not to be charged for attempting to kill himself as it was considered that he acted under the influence of alcohol, said a police source.

A fortnight ago, a drunken man lost an arm and sustained multiple fractures after he was attacked by three domesticated crocodiles when he jumped into their pool at a restaurant.

Mr Collin Peter Stewart Miller (21) from Lusaka, Zambia, was airlifted to South Africa following the attack at The Victoria Falls River Brewing Company. — @nonoe_hadebe

Source: 'Drunk’ man survives plunge into croc-infested Zambezi River (16/04/18)

Saturday, 14 April 2018

State to relocate villagers for Batoka power project

HUNDREDS of villagers living along the Zambezi River banks are likely to be displaced soon to pave way for the Batoka Gorge Hydro-Electric Scheme (BGHES) being initiated by Zambia and Zimbabwe.
This was revealed by Zambezi River Authority chief executive Munyaradzi Munodawafa during a tour of the project site on Wednesday.
Villagers who are most likely to be affected are from Victoria Falls, Hwange, Kamativi, Gokwe and Kwekwe, a 500km stretch.
“With that being the issue and in terms of land in Zimbabwe, we are not certain how much land we will be allocated, but we are going to have a major challenge. As you know that when you are developing a huge project the law says it should be 40km away from settlements. But now when we are envisaged to start our project there are villages that are 2km away, which means that if we are going to follow the 40km provisions, there is going to be massive removal of the villages to new settlements in both countries,” he said.
“Those affected are those living near our transmission lines. For instance, in Victoria Falls it will be people from Jambezi.”
Munodawafa said the environmental impact assessments were underway and that villagers will be compensated through provision of decent homes and grazing lands.
“What is going to happen to those villagers is we look at what each individual has. There is a threshold — the minimum for compensation, like if you almost have nothing we give you a three-roomed house with few amenities there, but if someone has put investment in it, we will put more or less equivalent to that. We need to conclude our feasibility study for the transmission lines and when it comes out it has to be done before the end of year.”
Situated 54km from Chidobe turn-off in Victoria Falls, the dam wall will be 181 metres long to allow water rafting activities to continue in the low flow season.
The project, commencing in the last quarter of next year and funded by the African Development Bank Fund, will see twin power stations built on either side of the Zambezi River, with all-weather access roads, residential housing and social amenities.
The expected annual energy production is 10,215 gigawatts.