20 March 2019

Rwanda: Bugesera International Airport Under Redesign

The Government has confirmed that some works on the Bugesera International Airport, which is under construction, have been temporarily halted to pave way for the redesigning of the facility.

Works on the proposed airport, valued at about $400 million, began construction in 2017 with completion expected by the end of 2020.

However, officials say that after the commencement, they realised that there were some adjustments that needed to be done on the airport to "make it fit for purpose."

The Minister for Infrastructure, Claver Gatete, told The New Times that the redesign is ongoing, which has consequently halted construction of some sections of the airport, adding that some construction works are ongoing.

Without revealing exact aspects of the design that would be altered, Gatete said that changes are in line with making sure that the facility meets global standards and expectations.

On completion of the redesign, it is then that the contractors can determine if the works shall be completed on schedule.

"With the redesign ongoing at the moment, not much can be done in terms of construction, hence the slow pace at the moment but some works are still ongoing," he said.

He said that implications on the time of completion and cost will only be clear after the new design is complete and approved.

The initial completion of the first phase was 2020.

At the recent aviation summit held in Kigali in February, aviation sector stakeholder said that there remains a shortage of quality airport infrastructure to support growing diverse operations across the continent.

Statistics from International Air Transport Association (IATA) showed that with an estimated 320 international airports in Africa, 10 airports in seven countries account for 49 per cent of total seat capacity and 50 per cent of the total revenues of the entire aviation market to and from Africa.

Gatete said that they have however been successful in mobilising finances for the project so far.

With hesitance to reveal exact details of the finances so far mobilised, he said that in partnership with Mota Engil, they have been able to and were still mobilizing necessary finances.

"We do not have money problem for the project," he said.

There were previously concerns on the financing of the infrastructure project on the revelation that financiers such as African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) had withdrawn from investing in the project for unclear reasons.

The Board of Directors of the African Development Bank in November last year approved an equity investment through its Africa Infrastructure Investment Fund.

On the sidelines of the Aviation Summit Akbar, Al Bakar the Chief Executive Officer of Qatar Airways had said that multiple partners are likely to be interested in investing in the facility if it of global standards.

He said that if approached, Qatar Investment Authority - the Qatari wealth fund - is likely to consider investing.

Expansion works for Sonatubes-Bugesera International Airport road, which stretches from Sonatubes (Kicukiro) to Akagera Bridge (ex-Nyabarongo) through Gahanga town, began last month.

The new airport, once complete, will have a passenger terminal covering 30,000 square metres, 22 check-in counters, 10 gates, six passenger boarding bridges, among others. The airport is expected to have capacity to handle about 1.7 million passengers every year.

It is also expected to be among the greenest airport in Africa, and possibly first in the region.

The new airport is expected to promote Rwanda as a major conference hub in the region.

With growing air traffic of other airlines as well as continued growth of national carrier, RwandAir, experts say that the new facility will come in handy to support the ambitions.

Rwanda

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