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Rwanda fast-tracks Bugesera airport

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Artistic Impression of Bugesera International Airport

Rwanda Govt enters $818m boot deal with Portuguese firm for biggest airport

Rwanda is set to finally get its new international airport at Bugesera, 25km south east of the capital city, Kigali. The new airport will feature a 4,200-meter runway and have initial capacity to handle three million passengers per year.

Under a deal signed on Sept. O1, the Portuguese firm Mota-Engil is to construct the new airport at a projected total cost of US$818 million.

Under the plan, construction works are scheduled to be in two phases, with phase one being completed in December 2018.

The Minister for Infrastructure, James Musoni, said Rwanda has an urgent need for an airport that can match the growth being witnessed in the country’s aviation industry. As a result, the project is being fast-tracked.

“The groundbreaking will be in June next year as we await securing finances but before that we will be starting some preparatory works in partnership with the government,” said Manuel Mota, the CEO of Mota-Engil.

The first phase will cost US$418 million and will deliver a facility of international standards with capacity to handle about 1.7 million passengers every year.

Mota-Engil will operate the airport for 25 years to recover its investment. After that the airport will either revert to the government, or the Mota-Engil contract could be extended for another 15 years.

James Musoni (L), Minister of Infrastructure and Mota Manuel the CEO of Mota-Engil.
James Musoni (L), Minister of Infrastructure and Mota Manuel the CEO of Mota-Engil.

Speaking to journalists at the signing ceremony, Finance Minister Claver Gatete praised the Public-Private Partnership model being used to construct the airport and said it is better than borrowing.

“Whenever we do business in joint ventures with the private sector, we can achieve much more with less,” he said.

He said the new airport would enhance Rwanda’s economic growth and development as at would be a major gateway to the rest of the world.

Gatete added that the facility would facilitate trade and investment and act as a hub for the national carrier, Rwandair’s growth strategy and other commercial airlines serving in the region.

The new airport is planned to provide a state of the art world class facility for Rwanda, with the flexibility to expand and develop as a key hub airport within the East Africa region. According to a statement from TPS and GIBB Africa who designed it, a new airport is fundamental to the economic development of major infrastructure within Rwanda. It will be the second and largest international airport in Rwanda.

Rwanda is under pressure to relieve Kigali International Airport, which continues to struggle with increasing passenger and airplane traffic despite major expansion works on it.

The figure is significantly boosted by tourists as the country continues to register an increase in visitors to its world renowned sites and events, like the infant gorilla-naming ceremony – Kwita Izina – which concluded at around the same time as the signing ceremony.

Generally, Rwanda registered a 3% increase in visitors over the same period. Actually, figures for visitors stand at about 1.2 million.

Some official statistics show that passenger traffic through Kigali International Airport has grown by over 6% between 2014 and 2015 and serves about 600,000 travellers.

According to IATA’s latest forecast Rwanda is one of the 10 African countries whose aviation market is expected to grow by 7-8% each year on average over the next 20 years, doubling in size each decade.

The signing of the Bugesera Airport contract comes at a time when Kigali is gearing up to host a major aviation event focusing on all aspects of the aviation industry including commercial, military, business, infrastructure, regulatory and safety.

The two-day conference and exhibition is scheduled for February 22-23 next year and is supported by several departments of the Rwandan government, including the Ministry of Infrastructure, Rwanda Civil Aviation Authority and RwandAir.

According to a statement issued on Sept. 12, Col. Silas Udahemuka, the director general, while speaking on behalf of Rwanda Civil Aviation Authority, is quoted to have said that aerospace and aviation are extremely important sectors for Rwanda and the country is determined to invest heavily in the sector through the national carrier, airport infrastructure, and training the human resource.

“We are confident that Aviation Africa will attract large numbers of participants and visitors through our invitation programme and we look forward to welcoming the global aviation industry to Rwanda,” he said.

The event is being organised by Times Aerospace, and the independent Flight Operations Services Operator NEXUS will be the host sponsor.

NEXUS, which launched in 2010 and is based in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, has opened a regional office in Rwanda.

According to a press statement, the organisation will participate in the exhibition along with companies that have already signed up early including Mitsubishi Aircraft Corporation, Skyplan, EgyptAir Training Centre, Ethiopian Airlines MRO, Ethiopian Aviation Academy, Akagera Aviation and Aerotask.

Confirmed participants include, Girma Wake, chairman of board of directors RwandAir and former CEO Ethiopian Airlines, Dr. Elijah Chingosho, chairman, AFRAA, Temel Kotil, CEO, Turkish Airlines and Jerome Maillet, deputy chief executive officer, Congo Airways.

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