The New Times (Kigali)

13 May 2011

Rwanda: Kigali International Airport to Get Rwf8 Billion Facelift

Rwanda Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) is to revamp the Kigali International Airport (KIA) in order to upgrading it to international standards.

KIA, which is located in Kanombe, will also be designed to facilitate easy access by the physically handicapped people.

Richard Masozera, the Director General of RCAA told Business Times in an interview that the process involves building more airport facilities including escalators which will be supplemented by lifts.

"This is the unique and new facility at the airport, also one of the requirements for international airports," Masozera said.

Other areas slated for modification include the extension and separation of terminals for departure and arrival passengers as well as display of modern look with business class lounge.

Masozera said that the check in desks will increase to 16 from 8 while a new baggage belt with a capacity to handle 150 bags per unit time from 80 bags will be installed.

The airport authority also intends to construct a parking for two large bodied aircrafts with capacity to carry above 100 passengers.

"Better terminals will attract more investments, commercial operations will increase because investors want a better serviced and modern airport," he stressed.

The president of the National Council of people with disabilities, Rusiaha Gastone, welcomed the move, saying that it was in line with a ministerial decree, which was approved recently to facilitate people with disabilities access public facilities like airports, hospitals, ministries and schools.

"We are still advocating for this decree to be implemented, government has done its role, but some implementers are ignoring it," Rusiha said, adding that: "In all government or public places, no space for a wheel chair, place like the airport, it's a priority thus the move is welcome."

British company, TPS, carried out the studies to upgrade the airport, Masozera said, adding that the company had submitted the final document, setting in motion the biding procedures for the implementation of the US$14 million (Rwf8.3 billion) project.

The tender process is expected to last for three months and the project will entirely be financed by government, he said.

The airport is one of the main gateways to Rwanda and depicts the country's image, especially since the economy's tourism industry is experiencing a boom, which is expected to boost passenger traffic.

"This is a priority, we are experiencing traffic increase in both passenger and aircrafts but also to position our selves as aviation hub in the region," he said.

Rwanda's tourism industry amassed US$56 million (Rwf33 billion) in revenues in the first quarter of 2011, up from US$43 million (Rwf25.5 billion) during the same period last year as tourists increased by 32 percent to 201,088 visitors.

The renovation of the airport is part of government's long-term plan to improve the country's infrastructure.

According to the budget framework for the fiscal year 2011/12, expenditure allocation towards infrastructure cluster is well above the projected EDPRS share of 19.7 percent of the total budget.

It is expected to rise to 21 percent in 2011/12. The Economic Development and Poverty Reduction Strategy (EDPRS) runs from 2008 to 2012.

The Ministry of Finance says that the expenditures in this sector have been accelerated due to its importance in creating an enabling environment for the economy to grow.

The upgrading of KIA comes ahead of the planned construction a new state-of-the-art airport, Bugesera International Airport, which will be located in the Eastern Province.

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