Portugal’s Mota-Engil to build $800m international airport in Rwanda

Portuguese group Mota-Engil has signed an agreement to finance, build and operate a new international airport in Rwanda.

The airport will be in Bugesera about 25km south of the capital Kigali, and will become the country’s largest, surpassing Kigali International Airport (pictured), once it is completed in December 2018.

Mota-Engil Africa will inject an initial investment of $418m towards its development, while according to Manuel Mota, the CEO of Mota-Engil Africa, the total cost of the airport is estimated to be $800m, news site The East African reported.

Current airport capacity is not matching the growth of our traffic in terms of aircraft or in terms of passengers– James Musoni, Rwanda’s minister for infrastructure

Mota-Engil will operate the facility for 25 years, with an option to extend the deal for a further 15 years.

The airport has been under consideration since 2011, when the government announced that it was looking for a design-build-finance-operate partner from the private sector.

In 2013 local media reported that the government was finalising negotiations with a Chinese firm, China State Construction Engineering Corporation, to build the airport.

However, Mota-Engil Africa signed the deal with the Rwandan government on 1 September. Afterwards, according to Reuters, Manuel Mota told reporters: "The first phase is for 1.7 million passengers a year and the government will get all its infrastructure for $418m."

The second phase is due to cost $400m, and will increase the airport’s capacity to 4.5 million. This would put it in a position to compete with Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Kenya, currently the region’s largest, with around 6.5 million passengers a year.

The government has said the first phase will involve building passenger and cargo terminals and a 4.2km runway, and that the second phase would supply a second runway and more terminals. No date has been given for when this phase will start.

The project is part of a wider plan to establish Rwanda as a transport hub, tourist destination and conference centre, and reflects the country’s rapid economic growth, which is projected to average more than 6% a year. However, Kigali’s existing airport (pictured) has a capacity of only 1.6 million and little space for expansion.

James Musoni, Rwanda’s minister for infrastructure, said: "Bugesera International Airport is coming in at the time when it is badly needed because we all know that the current airport capacity is not matching the growth of our traffic in terms of aircraft or in terms of passengers."

Work is expected to begin on site in June next year.

Image: Kigali International Airport (Wikipedia Commons)

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