Rwanda is betting on the construction of a new international airport in Bugesera in the eastern province to improve its competitiveness as a regional conference hub.
On Thursday, the government signed an agreement with Portuguese firm Mota-Engil Africa to inject an initial investment of $418 million towards its development.
According to Manuel Mota, the CEO of Mota-Engil Africa, the total cost of the Bugesera International Airport is estimated at $800 million,
The airport, – which is pegged to be Rwanda’s biggest – located 25km southeast of the capital Kigali, will have a 4.2km runway and an initial capacity to handle three million passengers per year. The airport is estimated to handle 4.5 million passengers per year upon completion.
“The new airport will enhance Rwanda’s economic growth and development and serve as a gateway to the external world. It will facilitate trade and investment and act as a hub for RwandAir’s growth strategy and other commercial airlines serving in the region,” Rwanda’s Minister of Finance, Claver Gatete said.
The first phase of the project is expected to be completed by December 2018.
According to the agreement, Mota-Engil will finance and operate the new airport for a period of 25 years with an optional 15 years extension.
With actual construction works set to begin in June next year, the investor has less than two years to meet the December 2018 deadline, a challenge that Mr Mota said he is confident his company would attain.
“This will be a fast-tracked project. We are involved in several other projects in the region and in Africa and we have the experience necessary to achieve this,” Mr Mota told The EastAfrican on the sidelines of the signing ceremony.
Mota-Engil Africa has presence in eleven countries in the continent, boasts assets worth $1.5 billion and is listed on the Lisbon Stock Exchange.
Mota-Engil has also done facelift works at Rwanda’s only airport, Kigali international Airport.
In Kenya, the expansion of Jomo Kenyatta International Airport is expected to be complete in 2017 at a cost of $410 million.
Tanzania is also constructing a third terminal at the Julius Nyerere International Airport at a cost of $250 million.