Afreximbank Earmarks $25m To Support Sporting Facility Rehabilitation In Barbados


By Sunday Etuka, Abuja

Ahead of the 2024 Cricket World Cup which is set to take place from June 4th to 30th in Bridgetown, Barbados, the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) has extended a USD 25 Million loan facility to Kensington Oval Management Inc. (KOMI), for rehabilitation of sporting facility.

Afreximbank said on Friday that the term loan facility is backed by a guarantee from the Government of Barbados given the importance of cricket to the country’s heritage.

The Kensington Oval Cricket Ground in Barbados is one of the iconic centers for cricket around the world and has regularly hosted test matches between the months of January and April, with teams drawn from the West Indies, England, Australia, New Zealand, India, Pakistan and South Africa.

The loan, according to the bank, will go towards renovation and refurbishing works; upgrading of the Garfield Sobers Players’ Pavilion; upgrading A/V and electrical systems as well as procurement of temporary stands.

Speaking at the facility signing ceremony, the Chairman of KOMI, Mr. Damien Gaskin said: “I would like to thank both Afreximbank for the support and partnership to help with the renovation of the sports complex, and the Government of Barbados under the Ministry of Finance for the provision of an interim bridge loan facility.

“With the renovated sports facility, we envisage increased utilization of Kensington Oval not only as a destination of choice to host world class events but also as a tourist attraction offering specialty tours leaning on the legacy of this historic venue. This will be a boost to sports and heritage tourism in Barbados”, he said.

Also speaking, Prof. Oramah, President and Chairman of the Board of Directors at Afreximbank said: “We are delighted to be signing this historic agreement in Ilaro Court, the Residence of the Prime Minister of Barbados, named after a village in Western Nigeria.

“It is remarkable that we are consummating the first Afreximbank loan transaction in Barbados in this building, where less than 3 years ago, we signed the Memorandum of Understanding that set the stage for the partnership Afreximbank has formed with Caricom member states. With USD 2.4 billion in implementable pipeline deals in the Caribbean, I see this as the first of many deal signings to follow”, he said.

He added: “The relationship between Africa and the Caribbean is growing as is evident in the fast-paced progress we have witnessed in just two years. And today Kensington Oval will form part of the legacy in the history of our partnership, which can see Cricketers from the region play a role in developing the sport in Africa.”

On her part, the Prime Minister, Mia Mottley said: “World Cup Cricket is the 3rd most important sport in the world after the football Olympics. Barbados is home to some of the greatest cricketers of all time, and once this sport picks up in the rest of Africa, jointly we can elevate it to become the world’s second sports. Barbados has a central role to play in the evolution of cricket, as it has the full potential of flattening the annual tourist curve to an all year-round sports tourism attraction.”

She added: “I salute President Oramah for his vision and commitment to the region. The Caribbean is in a unique position to work with Africa through trade and investment. Our regions have a demographic dividend that can drive and sustain a vibrant tourism economy.”

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