Harith General Partners, one of Africa’s largest infrastructure-focused private equity fund managers, today announced that despite being in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis, the US$296 million Zimbabwe Beitbridge border post complex BOT Public Private Partnership has reached financial close.
Harith has acquired a significant equity stake in Zimborders Mauritius – the developer of this modern border-crossing facility and complex – through its Pan African Infrastructure Development Fund 2 (“PAIDF-2”). The Pembani Remgro Infrastructure Fund, an equity investor in infrastructure opportunities across Africa, is a co-investor with PAIDF-2 in this project.
The complex is situated at Beitbridge on the border between South Africa and Zimbabwe and is the busiest border post in Southern Africa. It not only connects South Africa to Zimbabwe but also acts as a key access point and gateway for trade between the Southern Africa Development Community nations, linking to the all-important Durban harbour.
The investment will be a critical step in unlocking the economic potential of trade between the two countries, as the Beitbridge border crossing has been characterised by long waiting times for trucks attempting to cross the border. Beitbridge’s capacity constraints have had a stifling effect on economic activity, adding cost and risk to a vital channel of trade. Harith’s participation in the project follows the Company’s significant investments in the continent’s transport links, including the Lanseria airport in South Africa and the rail services provider Traxtion.
A consortium led by the La Frontiere Group (“LFG”), recently won a tender to refurbish, rehabilitate and modernise the border post between Zimbabwe and South Africa at Beitbridge. A special purpose vehicle, Andalusia (Pty) Ltd, trading as Zimborders (“Zimborders”) has been set up to undertake the project under a Public Private Partnership –Design-Build-Operate-Transfer (“PPP – DBOT”). The concession to operate the border post has been granted for a period of 17.5 years, with a possibility to extend it up to an additional 5 years.
The initial construction works on the project have already commenced and the refurbishment and rehabilitation will be done at Beitbridge, solely on the Zimbabwean side of the border.
Sipho Makhubela, CEO of Harith General Partners said: “This transaction clearly demonstrates that our expertise and efforts, combined with the active support of the Sponsors and a group of South African and Multilateral lenders, can together tame the complexities of a limited recourse financing structure. This will be to the benefit of all parties, including the host government – Zimbabwe. The successful closing of this milestone signals our full confidence not only in the necessity of this project but also its objectives and benefits to ease congestion, reduce time delays (thereby reducing transport costs) and simplify the processes at the border, all to facilitate and expand inter-Africa trade. The investment signals Harith’s continued expansion in the transport sector and is a harbinger of future investments which we believe are critical for improving and strengthening regional connectivity and trade.”