ONE of the world’s richest people, Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Alsaud, quietly sneaked into the country on Wednesday and toured the Joina Centre, whose construction started in 1998 and has taken long to complete due to escalating costs of building materials.
The visit by the Saudi Arabian billionaire, whose riches were estimated at US$20 billion as at May 1 2002, has brightened prospects for the completion of the state-of-the-art centre – a brainchild of TA Holdings Limited chairman Shingai Mutasa.
The project, initially budgeted at about ZW$1.1 billion, is now slated for completion in December at an estimated $500 billion owing to relentless increases in costs of building materials and the loss of value suffered by the Zimbabwe dollar against major world currencies.
Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Alsaud’s visit comes at a time when investors in the centre have agreed to put their shoulders on the wheel and finish the long stalled project. The Prince, who is one of the partners in Joina Centre, jetted into Harare at around 2pm on Wednesday aboard a private plane. He left the same day after touring the centre.
Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Alsaud is a young and dynamic person who has made world headlines many times in recent years and has established himself as a very successful businessman, a smart investor and a great humanitarian.
He has been named by Forbes Magazine as the largest single non-American investor inside the United States of America, and as the second smartest businessman in the world. His investments can be found in all continents and in many sectors. He has been awarded several medals and was granted the highest honours by many leaders around the world.
Contacted for comment this week, Mutasa said the Prince’s visit was significant for Zimbabwe in that the Saudi, who at one point was the second richest man after Microsoft chairman Bill Gates, had already promised to invest more funds in the continent.
“He wants to put a billion (United States) dollars into Africa and Zimbabwe is one of the countries he has invested in. The fact that he put more money into Joina Centre last year signifies his commitment to Zimbabwe and I believe it is up to us as Zimbabweans to decide whether men like that can be excited to invest in Zimbabwe,” he said. “The Prince is proving to be one of the most committed investors in Africa at an individual level.”
The TA chairman said the long period taken to complete the project should be viewed in the context of the tough environment the construction industry was operating under.
“We need to appreciate the environment. It is not easy to build when inflation and the exchange rate have moved the way they have done. We were working with an exchange rate of eight to one against the United States dollar when we started. There is no doubt that the exchange rate and inflation have dealt us a heavy blow.
“No one will invest when the environment is like this. We are ready and willing to accept that we may not have achieved that in two or three years, but Joina will be the only project in the next two to three years,” he said.
The Zimbabwe Independent
Friday, 22 July 2005
PROPERTY — Owners raise $8b to complete Joina Centre
THE owners of Joina Centre have invested $8 billion to complete the complex, which has been beset by financial problems for the past seven years.
Darlington Masenda, project director and chief executive of Joina Development Company owned by Shingai Mutasa, confirmed the recent investment saying the investors could however be required to pour in more money to complete the complex.
He said the first phase, which is the retail section, would be completed by year-end while the tower meant for offices would be completed early next year.
“The investors recently poured in about $8 billion and right now we are operating at 100%,” said Masenda. “We expect that by the end of this year the retail section would be through while the office section which is the tower is likely to be done by February next year.”
He said the investors were committed to put more money into the project if the need arises. When it started in 1997 the project was expected to cost about $700 million, but rising inflation and foreign currency shortages saw the figure balloon to billions.
It is now expected to cost more that $10 billion which the funders are said to be willing to pour in to make it a success.
Two major investment vehicles -Sherryfield Investment and Dubury Investment – currently drive the project. Sherryfield Investments is made up of local pension funds – Communication and Allied Pension Fund, NRZ Pension Fund, Zimnat Insurance and Melville Investments.
Dubury Investments comprises FMI Holdings owned by Mutasa and Kingdom Holdings owned by a Saudi Arabian national. Joina will house among others, cinemas, shopping space and offices.
The Daily Mirror
Joina Centre still on track
issue date :2004-May-06
JOINA Centre, the multi-billion dollar venture still under construction in the heart of the city, will be completed by the first quarter of next year, an official at Joina Development Company confirmed yesterday.
Tendai Mavera, a spokesman for the company, said that a number of problems had pushed the completion of the project to early next year.
â€œ However, the first quarter of next year is our target for the whole project but l can safely say that other sections of the building will be open and functional before year-end.â€?
The much-vaunted project began in 1997 and six years later the building is yet to be completed.
The countryâ€™s economic problems that resulted in high inflation rates, critical shortages of foreign currency and raw materials combined with the prohibitive costs of raw materials in the country negatively affected the construction of the building.
Joina Centre, when complete will be an imposing, futuristic building with at least 3 cinema houses, banking halls, retail shops, supermarkets, offices and underground offices.
â€œ One of the problems that has caused delay in its completion is obviously the foreign currency issue, but we have solved it and plans are in progress to have an offshore investor with access to foreign currency.
â€œWe have been experiencing delays in having our offshore investor registered through the normal channels and investment approvals by the regulatory authorities,â€? Mavera added.
Six years after its inception the looming skeleton structure, with cement pillars shooting into the sky, unplastered red bricks and gaping storeys, aptly sums up the progress of Zimbabweâ€™s construction sector.
Kingdom Financial Holdings, Joina Holdings, Local Authorities Pension Fund, Zimnat Investments, and Communications and Allied Workers Pension Fund are some of the ventureâ€™s major investors.
The Daily Mirror
Joina Centre an eyesore
issue date :2004-Sep-15
EDITOR â€“ Allow me to raise my voice over the completion of Joina Centre.
The builders of the structure have always said Joina will be complete â€œvery soonâ€?. My question is: how soon is soon?
Why is the building hanging right in the heart of the city unfinished and with no promise of conclusion in sight? The builders and owners should come out in the open and tell we, the humble citizens, what is happening.
We love our city and itâ€™s time the builders gave the city the respect it deserves â€“ by becoming accountable to us as well.
The Daily Mirror
Joina Centre bad apple for NSSA
issue date :2004-Nov-16
JOINA Centre, still under construction more than six years after its inception, has been described as one of the many unsound investment decisions made by the National Social Security Authority (NSSA).
This is according to the findings of the Parliamentary public accounts committee report on the authority that was presented last week.
NSSAâ€™s core business is to collect contributions from employees and employers, investing the money and paying pension and other benefits when they are due.
The report said NSSAâ€™s investment policy focused on security instead of balancing security and returns.
â€œNSSAâ€™s investment policy focuses on security instead of balancing security and returns, a situation which has resulted in some unsound investment decisions for projects such as Joina Centre, Tonje and Ekusileni for example,â€? the committee, headed by Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga, said.
The committee also questioned the authorityâ€™s priorities in view of NSSAâ€™s failure to properly invest in housing considering that the authority has both the land and the financial resources to embark on such projects.
Construction work on the multi-billion dollar Joina Centre began in 1997.
In 2000 work on the project was halted because of financial problems.
Work however resumed in 2002, and the company anticipated work to be completed by December 2004.
However the Centre is far from completion.
When complete the complex will consist of three cinema houses, at least two banking halls, supermarkets, retail shops, underground parking and offices.
Investors in the project include Communications and Allied Industry Pension Fund, Zimnat Investments (Private) Limited, Local Authorities Pension Fund, Dubury Investments (Private) Limited, Kingdom Bank, Joina Holdings Limited and the National Railways of Zimbabwe Pension Fund.___