The African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) has announced a number of new initiatives in Zimbabwe, which will see it expand its operations in the country and across Southern Africa.

Afreximbank will build a permanent regional office for Southern Africa in Harare with an integrated one-stop trade services shop. It is the first of its so-called ‘trade centres’ – mini business parks for African trade – that Afreximbank is planning to open across the continent.

The trade centre will include a range of facilities, such as an auditorium conference centre, a trade information centre, corporate rental office space for trade promoting bodies, export credit agencies and commercial banks, an innovation and incubation hub for small businesses, and shops and restaurants.

“The project, when completed, will transform Zimbabwe into an intra-African trade hub, a centre of knowledge and information about markets, and a centre where major deals can be struck,” says Afreximbank president Benedict Oramah.

He adds that the project will enable Afreximbank to expand its operations in Southern Africa in size, scope and complexity.

The government of Zimbabwe has donated the land of 12,000m2 that the project will cover.

Meanwhile, Afreximbank has also announced it will extend a US$600mn credit line to Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, which will support the financing of trade-related transactions and projects in Zimbabwe, including gold and other mining exports.

According to Oramah, Afreximbank has already disbursed more than US$3bn to critical sectors in the country over the last decade. He says the bank is currently processing deals worth about US$1bn for Zimbabwean public and private sector entities.

Zimbabwe is Afreximbank’s third largest shareholder.