President Paul Kagame’s dream of seeing Rwanda have a new airport that would be the country’s biggest, has finally gotten the needed investment. The Rwandan government has signed a deal with Mota Engil Engenharia e Construcao Africa, and will see the first phase of the project completed by the end of 2018. The successful completion of this project would see it complement Kigali International Airport, the country’s only international airport at the moment.
On Wednesday in Kigali, the Aviation Travel and Logistics Holdings Limited (ATL), on behalf of the government signed an $818 million deal with Mota Engil, a Portuguese construction firm to begin work on the highly anticipated Bugesera International Airport. The construction of the airport is expected to commence June next year and be completed in December 2018.
Under the Public Private Partnership (PPP) agreement, the government will not incur any cost as the Portuguese company would spend US$418 million in the first phase. By the completion of the project in 2018, Mota Engil is expected to deliver a facility of international standards with a capacity to handle about 1.7 million passengers every year.
According to Mota Engil’s Africa Chief Executive, Manuel Mota, soon after the first phase of the project is completed, the company will commence expansion works to increase the airport’s capacity to 4.5 million passengers per year. This will cost an additional US$400 million, bringing the total amount spent on the entire project to US$818 million. In recouping its investment after the first phase is ready, the company will run the facility’s operations for 25 years with another 15-years extension option. No definite time was given for the start of the second phase.
Currently, Rwanda has four domestic airports and two international airports. The Kigali International Airport was recently upgraded by the country’s Civil Aviation Authority to accommodate 1.5 million passengers per year. “More than ever, we need an airport that can match the growth we are witnessing in the aviation industry,” James Musoni, the Minister of Infrastructure said.
The East African country is looking towards expanding its airports at a time when most of Africa’s aviation industry is shrinking due to economic downtime. Since the beginning of the year, Nigeria has been hit by a massive ‘airxit’ which saw many western airlines close operations in the country.
Playing down fears of the airline business’ decline in the continent, the acting chief executive of ATL, Jean Paul Nyirubutama told The New Times that, “The aviation industry across the continent might be going through headwinds which are just temporary and caused by the general economic situation in Africa, but airlines in Africa are set to grow given that the continent is the next frontier of aviation and the growth rate is high enough to accommodate carriers in Africa.”
Rwanda’s investment in its aviation industry can be likened to a farmer tilling the soil during the dry season in expectation of rain; the country is positioning itself to meet a global demand for stronger growth prospects. Apart from complementing the existing airports in Rwanda, which are operating in maximum capacity, the successful completion of Bugesera International Airport will make Rwanda another top destination for investors coming to Africa.