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IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, today announced a loan to Protea Hotels Zambia, a subsidiary of conglomerate Union Gold Zambia, to build and operate a hotel and conference center in the outskirts of Lusaka. The new hotel will help meet the growing demand for business infrastructure in Zambia, while creating jobs for youth and opportunities for hotel services and goods providers.

The Protea hotel will provide 249-rooms and a large, multi-purpose event venue for up to 2,500 people. The hotel is expected to employ around 300 persons and will source many of its goods and services locally from Zambian businesses. The hotel will be managed under a Protea Hotels by Marriott franchise agreement, training local staff in global best practices on hospitality. Protea Hotels is one of Marriott’s 30-plus brands, and widely recognized in Africa’s hospitality sector. There are close to 100 Protea hotels in nine countries, namely South Africa, Zambia, Nigeria, Namibia, Ghana, Tanzania, Uganda, Malawi, and Algeria. The brand is classified as mid-market by international standards.

IFC is contributing $9 million towards the financing of the hotel, out of a total project cost of $30 million.

“The Zambia tourism market has grown from the first time we invested in the Protea Hotels franchise,” said Mark O’Donnell, Chairman of Union Gold, which owns the Protea Hotels franchise in Zambia. “The journey was not easy but our desire to support local businesses through investing in accommodation was the driving force behind our success. With IFC support, we can offer Zambians and tourists alike good hotel accommodation and a modern multipurpose event facility.”

More than 1 million tourists visited Zambia in 2017, up from 362,000 in 1998.  Diversification of the mining dependent economy through tourism is a key strategy for the government.

“The hospitality sector can create jobs, generate tax revenues for governments and bring business to entrepreneurs in emerging economies like Zambia. IFC’s investment and advisory services to the Protea Hotel will help build new business infrastructure and conference facilities for investors, as well as integrate the hospitality value chain in Zambia,” said Kevin Njiraini, IFC Director for Southern Africa.

IFC will complement its investment in Protea hotel with advisory services on corporate governance and food safety. It will also help small and medium enterprises integrate into the hotel’s supply chain. The hotel will incorporate industry green building standards, leveraging IFC’s Excellence in Design for Greater Efficiencies (EDGE) tool. EDGE helps property developers optimize building designs, to maximize energy and water efficiencies that can save money while conserving resources. EDGE is employed across the continent by various companies.

The Protea project is part of IFC’s wide-ranging support to Zambia’s private sector.  IFC has invested close to $100 million in the country’s economy, in critical sectors like manufacturing, banking, hospitality and agriculture.