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Portuguese firm signs deal for Rwanda’s biggest airport

Portuguese firm Mota-Engil has signed an agreement with the Rwanda government to construct a new airport, set to be the country’s second international airport, and its largest.


The deal was signed worth an initial investment of $418 million, but the total cost of the airport is likely to rise to $800 million, according to Manuel Mota, the CEO of Mota-Engil Africa.

It was learned that the model of the airport construction will follow the principles of BOOT, whereby the Portuguese company ‘Mota Engineering and Construction Africa‘ will procure finance, then construct and thereafter operate the airport for an initial 25 years – with a further 15 add on years as an option before then transferring the facility to the Rwandan government.

This modus operandi will save the Rwandan government and taxpayer a whopping 818 million US Dollars, as Phase Two of the construction will at present prices cost a further 400 million US Dollar.

The new facility is set to be unveiled in December 2018, and will complement Kigali International Airport, which has recently seen a surge in passengers.

Recent figures indicate a 6 percent growth in passengers at Kigali from January to November 2015 compared to the same period in 2014.

The airport served 569,182 passengers, exceeding the 2014 figure by more than 11,000.

Rwanda’s tourism registered a 3 percent increase in visitors in 2014, with numbers growing from 1.14 million visitors the previous year to 1.2 million visitors

The move to have a second airport puts Rwanda on par with its regional peers like Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania, which embarked on major rehabilitation of their key airports, as the appetite for tourists to the East African region grows.

The new airport will be located in southeast Kigali, with a 4,200-meter runway and an initial capacity to handle 3 million passengers per year – a figure that could rise to 4.5 million passengers upon expansion.

The Finance Ministry stated that under the agreement, Mota-Engil will finance and operate the new airport for a period of 25 years with an optional 15-year extension.

“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 [national carrier] Rwandair’s growth strategy and other commercial airlines serving in the region,” Finance Minister Claver Gatete told a news conference.

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