In a reversal of conventional infrastructure rationale, the government of Angola is pressing ahead with plans to build an airport where hardly anyone lives.
Hoping the airport will stimulate development, authorities are about to issue a tender for Mbanza Congo airport in ZaÃ¯re province, in the country’s coastal northwest.
Although the airport will be small – the main terminal will be designed to handle only 600 people – it will be located in the middle of an inhospitable wilderness near the northern border with the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Manuel Ceita, the chairman of ENANA, Angola’s state-owned airport operator, said a tender would be launched in the next two months.
He told the Jornal de Angola that rather than building an airport in an area where there was a demand for air travel, the government was building it where there was none, in the hope of stimulating it.
He said: "The airport will be built in an inhospitable zone, which will generate development in the region, including the construction of housing and the creation of businesses."
At the moment, the whole of ZaÃ¯re province has a population of about 560,000 people.
The site will be 35km from Mbanza Congo, the provincial capital. When it is in operation, it will be able to receive medium-range Boeing 737 and Ilyushin Il-76s.
Mr Ceita added that ENANA was looking to modernise 20 other airports in the country.
Image: The province of ZaÃ¯re has few tar roads (JB/ freewheely.com)