The African Development Bank (AfDB) has approved a $160 million loan for the expansion of Kenya's main airport in Nairobi.
The continental multilateral lender said Wednesday that the credit would boost Kenya's efforts to make Nairobi an aviation hub.
The upgrade project at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport will see the construction of a 4.9km second runway built to the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) Category Two standards, and includes connecting taxiways, additional parking stands for aircraft, and an air rescue firefighting unit.
The existing single runway is operating at Category Flights Conditions level one (CAT-1) with a width of 45m and 4.1-kilometre long.
Kenya has been planning to construct a second runway at JKIA for years to ease pressure on the existing one.
“The second runway will support more air traffic and facilitate increased tourism and business travel and expedite a two-way cargo traffic,” said AfDB's Amadou Oumarou, a director of Infrastructure, Cities and Urban Development, who worked on the project.
With the expansion, Kenya hopes to improve reliability of air traffic at JKIA and the airport’s operational efficiency by reducing delays at peak hours and costly flight diversions arising from incidences on the existing runway.
Further, the project is expected to enhance regional integration and expand international trade with improved air connectivity. It will also facilitate high-value exports and imports and increase tourist earnings.
In addition, the project will improve airport capacity and resilience for direct intercontinental flights to North America and Australia.
This is expected to increase access for Kenyan floricultural produce to new markets.
AfDB notes that on completion, the project would significantly increase tourism and business travel annually by 4.2 per cent between 2026 and 2052, while two-way cargo traffic is projected to annually grow by 5.1 per cent over the same period.
Together, growth arising from aviation, tourism, and floriculture, is estimated to generate about 1.5 million jobs and add about $22.7 billion (estimated as at 2016) in added-value to the national GDP.