Keen to meet standards and needs of tourists the Arusha International Conference Centre (AICC) is set to build an ultra-modern-shopping mall estimated to cost $12 million in Tanzania’s northern safari capital.
According to authorities there is a need for a well designed shopping centre to suit the progressive retailer and the discerning shopper so as to enjoy a world-class African shopping experience.
It is expected the facility will be the most modern and largest shopping outlet in fast growing Arusha, the headquarters for the East African Community (EAC) and International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda(ICTR), among other bodies.
AICC has already prepared a draft proposal and the authorities are approaching a partner in the project, the Local Authority Pension Fund (LAPF), the centre’s Managing Director Elishilia Kaaya told The Guardian on Sunday this week.
The shopping mall whose construction is expected to start towards the end of the year is to be erected on AICC plot in Kaloleni area popularly known here as Soweto.
The shopping centre, to cover a total of 7,000 square metres, would offer a range of facilities including chains of supermarkets, several banking halls, restaurants, airlines and tour company offices. Other outlets would be rented out for bureaux de change, cinema and function halls.
Tanzania Association of Tour operators (TATO) Executive officer Cyril Akko welcomed the plan, saying the shopping mall would be of great importance for tourists with passion to enjoy an African shopping experience.
“This is by far the most exciting place in the city with potential for tourist allures but lacks shopping malls with diverse stores like specialty boutiques, fashion and gift stores, shops offering African souvenirs and much more Akko said.
In tourism business Arusha, only 45 minutes drive from Kilimanjaro International Airport, is a place where safaris to the famous national parks and tourist attractions in the northern circuit begin and end.
The city is characterised by a hive of arrival and departure activities as countless four-Wheel Drive safari vehicles load up with provisions and set off with their tourists into the endless, game-teeming plains of the mighty Serengeti, Tarangire, Manyara, Arusha and Kilimanjaro National Parks as well as Ngorongoro Crater.
Available figures from players in the tourism industry indicate that about 80 per cent of 900,000 tourists visiting Tanzania head for the northern circuit through Arusha annually.
Nearly 18 blocks comprising 72 living quarters owned by the AICC would be demolished in Soweto, a few metres from the Central Bus Stand and Amri Abeid Stadium, to pave the way for the construction of the shopping centre.
A number of tenants at the AICC’s Kaloleni estate have been served with notices to vacate their quarters.
“We have served notices to the tenants whose houses are lined up for demolition,” he said, explaining that the AICC management would ensure the exercise would be conducted “in a civilized manner.”
According to him, the tenants have been given until December this year to vacate the buildings, playing down complaints by some of them that they were being victimised.
“Unfortunately some of them have been cheated that AICC would sell the houses because they have lived there for a long time. But there is nothing like that,” emphasised Kaaya.
AICC, a parastatal under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, is the leading landlord in Arusha. Besides its landmark structure (the imposing conference centre), it has at least 650 residential units in the city which former US President Bill Clinton described as “Geneva of Africa”.
AICC is 100 percent state-owned, but operates as a fully-fledged commercial entity that receives no subsidies from the Treasury.