UK Export Finance underwrites £373 million financing for historic upgrades to 103km of Zanzibar’s road network and to Pemba Airport. UK exporters are expected to win supply contracts equivalent to more than £100 million for these transformational projects. Importantly, infrastructure upgrades set to boost Zanzibar’s island economy, which draws around a quarter of its annual GDP from tourism.
The financing was underwritten by UK Export Finance (UKEF), the UK government’s export credit agency, and enables two major projects. Therefore, historic upgrade to Pemba Airport and improvements to 103km of roads which will support connectivity. Additionally, the upgrades will bring prosperity across Pemba and Unguja islands.
UKEF worked with Citi to unlock €180 million in loans for the airport upgrade. Additionally, Deutsche Bank will facilitate €242 million in loans for the road improvements. These projects will be completed through strategic joint ventures, with Propav Infraestructuras leading and collaborating with Mecco Ltd.
Significance of the infrastructure upgrades on Zanzibar’s tourism sector
Importantly, the works are a milestone in UK support for Tanzania in improving land transport across Zanzibar. Improvements at Pemba Airport will transform the facility into an international flights hub, which currently can only land on Unguja. By allowing overseas passengers to reach Pemba Island directly, the new project will unlock the economic potential of the second largest island in the Zanzibar archipelago.
The works are expected to substantially increase passenger capacity by extending the runway, adding new terminal buildings. Moreover, the project will introduce other new infrastructure including a control tower. This will create opportunities for major new business and foreign investment in Zanzibar. Additionally, vibrant tourism sector already contributes to around a quarter of the islands’ annual income.
The UK-enabled road upgrades across Unguja and Pemba will expand three major roads to four lanes. Moreover, fitting them with street lighting and additional paving. This is expected to reduce congestion whilst improving connectivity and safety.