A funding shortfall has stalled construction of a $20 billion modern international airport in Tanzania’s Kagera region.
Tanzania Aviation Authority director general Suleiman Suleiman said the government had so far failed to secure funding for Kajunguti International Airport.
This means it could take four to five years to complete the facility.
Kagera is located in the north-western corner of Tanzania on the western shores of Lake Victoria. The region neighbours Uganda, Rwanda, and Burundi, and lies across the lake from Kenya.
Mr Suleiman said the construction of the airport, which was first mentioned in Tanzania’s ruling party CCM’s 2010 election manifesto, is modelled around Japan’s second-most important airport, Kansai International Airport.
The airport will serve the Great Lakes Region.
“If it happens that the government receives private funding for the project, and there is interest from several companies, then we will be able to build the airport in time,” Mr Suleiman said.
“So far, the country has already secured 15,000 hectares of land and is in the process of compensating the people who will be affected by the construction, to the tune of $7 million,” he said.
The director general said the government’s vision is to have more airports, adding that at the moment Tanzania is in discussions with Dubai airline Emirates to land at the newly constructed Songwe airport in Mbeya.
An international airport in Kagera would boost trade, mining, fishing and tourism among East African Community member states.
“Julius Nyerere International Airport is under expansion, Rwanda is constructing an international airport and Kenya is expanding its airport, which means East African countries are expanding business,” he said.
Mr Suleiman said about 20 international airlines land at Dar es Salaam’s Julius Nyerere airport, and that the completion of Kajunguti airport will significantly increase this number.
Recently, President Jakaya Kikwete said the construction of Kajunguti airport would start soon.
The president made the remarks when laying the foundation for the expansion of Bukoba Airport, which serves domestic flights in the region.
Meanwhile, the Minister for Transport, Harrison Mwakyembe, has directed Tanzania Airports Authority to speed up compensation for residents in the village to pave the way for construction of Kajunguti airport.
He said funds have been set aside by the government, and that the airport would boost trade and tourism in the EAC.