The local business community will soon be able to easily explore more Western African markets following the signing of a bilateral air service agreement between the Government of Rwanda and Cape Verde.
Signed by Minister of State for Transport, Jean de Dieu Uwihanganye on behalf of government on the sidelines of the just-ended third annual International Civil Aviation Organisation World Aviation Forum 2017 in Abuja, Nigeria, the deal also presents RwandAir new market opportunities. The three-day meeting was under the theme, "Financing the Development of Aviation Infrastructure" and run from November 20-22, 2017.
"This is expected to open more potential market opportunities for RwandAir and Rwanda's private sector, providing more economic momentum for the local and other African economies," said Uwihanganye.
The national carrier is expected to open the routes soon, Ministry of Infrastructure officials said.
The minister also negotiated a bilateral air service agreement with Nigeria, which is expected to be signed in Kigali in coming weeks at the same event, according to a statement from the Ministry of Infrastructure.
When it is signed, it will facilitate RwandAir's flights to Abuja as its second destination in Nigeria after Lagos. Abuja route is expected to be opened in January 2018 subject to approval from Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority. The authority is expected to inspect and verify RwandAir's compliance to ensure operations start.
Rwanda has already signed 60 bilateral air service agreements with several countries as part of government efforts to increase air connectivity and deepen trade in Africa and beyond "to ensure that Rwanda opens to the world and vice versa".
Of these, 24 bilateral agreements are with African states and the rest are with countries outside the continent.
Local aviation sector rated highly
Meanwhile, Dr Bernard Aliu Olumuyiwa, the ICAO council president has commended Rwanda for good performance and effective implementation and compliance with aviation standards and recommended practices. According to the 2017 ICAO Universal Safety Oversight Audit Programme (USOAP), Rwanda scored 71.93 per cent. This was a huge improvement compared to previous audits where Rwanda scored 21.13 per cent in 2007 and 44.29 per cent in 2012. The audit is done on eight critical areas that ensure the safe and secure operations of the aviation industry.
The ICAO president accepted to personally come to Rwanda and hand over the ICAO certificate to President Paul Kagame, according to infrastructure ministry officials. He was speaking during the third ICAO World Aviation Forum 2017.
The government has earmarked aviation as an enabler of economic growth and thus invested in the upgrading of the Kigali International Airport and up-country airports of Kamembe and Gisenyi, as well as the ongoing construction of the Bugesera International Airport.