22 March 2019

Rwanda in Talks With Qatar Over Bugesera Airport Investment

The Governments of Rwanda and Qatar are negotiating potential investment in the proposed Bugesera International Airport by the latter.

The Qatar Deputy Prime Minister Sheikh Mohamed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani is in the country for a two-day visit with the negotiations part of the agenda.

Al Thani, who is also the Minister of Foreign Affairs, arrived in the country yesterday morning and held talks with Rwanda's high ranking government officials led by Foreign Affairs Minister Dr Richard Sezibera.

The ongoing negotiations were confirmed by Minister Sezibera, who said that it was still work in progress.

He said that there seems to be "big" interest by the Qatar government.

"We are discussing that and there seem to be a big interest in this. It's likely to be closed soon with them," he said.

It's still unclear whether the deal will effectively edge out other investors from the project, especially Portugal's Mota Engil, but Sezibera said that the project has room for multiple actors.

"Bugesera International Airport, like many other investments, is big enough for multiple actors. The only challenge we have is that we do not have as many as we would want," he said.

If the deal goes through, it is likely to be through the Qatar Investment Authority, which is the Government's arm that handles such investments.

On the sidelines of the recent Aviation Africa summit in Kigali, Akbar Al Bakar, the Chief Executive of Qatar Airways, had told The New Times that Qatar was likely to be interested in investment in Rwanda if presented with proposals that make a case for global standards.

Bugesera International Airport is currently undergoing a redesign, which the Government said will make it fit for purpose.

It is until completion of the redesign that it will be possible to determine its effect on the completion schedule.

Sezibera said that the two countries have a long-standing relationship, which is growing.

He said they are also discussing other areas of cooperation including diplomatic cooperation, political dialogue as well as different potential investments in agriculture, tech, mining, transport, tourism.

"It's a vibrant relationship. We are happy that Qatar has shown interest in working with us," he said.

editor@newtimesrwanda.com

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