Santa Carolina Island, part of the Bazaruto archipelago, off the coast of the southern Mozambican province of Inhambane, will soon have a luxury hotel, thanks to a 50 million US dollar investment by the Rani Resorts Group.
The Mozambican Tourism Ministry approved in March a proposal for the building of the new hotel.
Rani Resorts, founded by Saudi businessman Adel Aujan, owns a chain of hotels in Mozambique, including the Indigo Bay Island Resort on Bazaruto, the largest island in the archipelago, the Pemba Beach Hotel, in the northern province of Cabo Delgado, and luxury resorts on Medjumbe and Matemo Islands in the Quirimbas archipelago, off the northern coast.
The group is currently designing the architecture of the hotel on Santa Carolina, which should be presented to the government before the end of this year. In the meantime, work is underway to demolish the ruins of the existing hotel.
The old Santa Carolina Hotel, built in the 1960s, with 100 rooms, was once a popular tourism destination, but has been derelict for years. The existing complex also contains a small aerodrome and a chapel.
The new hotel will have 50 rooms, plus restaurants, bars and diving and fishing facilities. The investment takes the form of a joint venture between Rani Resorts and nominally British group Echo Delta Holdings, registered in the Isle of Man. Echo Delta was awarded the concession on Santa Carolina in February 2006, but has done nothing with it since.
The man behind Echo Delta is in fact a controversial Zimbabwean businessman, John Bredenkamp. He founded the Casalee Group of companies in the 1970s, and it is believed that they were involved in the illegal sale of Rhodesian tobacco on international markets, in violation of UN sanctions against the Ian smith regime.
Despite this history, Bredenkamp prospered in independent Zimbabwe – until investigations began into allegations of tax evasion and exchange control violations involving his Breco group. But when he appeared in court, in September 2006, it was on charges of using a South African passport (thus breaching Zimbabwean nationality law). He won this case and eventually had his Zimbabwean passport returned.
Bredenkamp’s name was also on a list of people accused in a United Nations report on the exploitation of natural resources during the war in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Santa Carolina, 3,000 metres long and 500 metres wide, is part of the Bazaruto National Park. This park, established in 1971, was designed to protect endangered species.
Its population of 250 dugongs is the largest counted on the entire East African coast. Visitors to the crystalline waters of the archipelago can also see at least two species of dolphin and three species of whale, while five species of turtle nest on its shores.