The projected Bugesera international airport is currently proceeding with construction, and it could be finished by 2026, according to optimistic estimates.
Rwanda presented the structural model of the airport, which is expected to be situated approximately 40 kilometers from Kigali, in September 2022 during the Aviation Africa Summit. According to the airport’s developers, with an estimated $2 billion in investment, the facility could aid in the development of Africa’s aviation industry.
Developers claim that the new facility will feature a main terminal building measuring 130,000 square meters that can accommodate eight million passengers annually. In the decades to come, the number is expected to rise to around 14 million passengers.
Aviation Travel and Logistics (ATL) are supervising the project’s construction work.
The opening of the new airport will contribute to addressing the challenge of a disjointed network of flight paths that frequently forces passengers to fly between African countries through Europe or the Middle East. In this regard, the continent’s untapped potential in the aviation industry is being held back by a lack of connections.
According to a 2018 report from the African Union’s Single African Air Transport Market effort, Africa only makes up less than 4 percent of the world’s air travel market, despite having 1.4 billion people, or 16.75 percent of the world’s population.
The Bugesera International Airport (BIA) project involves the construction of a new airport in Rilima and/or Juru localities of the Bugesera District in the Eastern Province of Rwanda, approximately 23 km to the southeast of Kigali City.
When completed, the new airport will be the East African country’s third and largest international airport and the eighth airport overall with the capacity to accommodate 14 million passengers a year.
Airport type Public/Civilian
Location Kigali Rwanda
No. of Runways 1 with provisions for a second one
Capacity 1.8 million passengers/150 million tonnes of cargo per year
Owner Rwanda Civil Aviation Authority
The Bugesera International Airport (BIA) project was born back in 2013 with the government of the East African country planning to award the contract for the implementation of the project to China State Construction Engineering Corporation. However, the latter withdrew from the project.
New Bugesera International Airport, Rwanda among projects that need US$1bn
The Government of Rwanda is planning to borrow US$1bn to fund various infrastructure projects in the country next year. The most pressing of the development projects online is the construction of Bugesera International Airport. The government was forced to borrow from the international community after foreign investors failed to fund key projects in the country.
The airport will be located in southeastern Rwanda, Bugesera District, and will be Rwanda’s largest International Airport when complete, serving commercial flights destined to and from the greater Kigali metropolitan area. It will also be Rwanda’s third international airport and the country’s eighth.
The new airport to be constructed in the Bugesera district is aimed at addressing the rise in the number of passengers at the Kigali International Airport. The airport is currently operating beyond its capacity of 300,000 passengers per year. The airport is operating 10 times its capacity and has been expanded as a short-term measure.
The total cost of the construction of the airport is US$600m and the project includes the construction of a 4.2-kilometer-runway, and cargo and passenger terminals capable of handling 1.8 million passengers annually. The airport was expected to be ready by 2017 but construction works are yet to commence and thus the need for the funds to be sourced by the government.
The project came back to life in 2015 when the Rwanda Development Board (RDB) announced ongoing negotiations with an unnamed “serious investor”.
New airport in Rwanda seeks to boost tourism
Mota-Engil, the African division of a Portuguese construction firm has announced that it has signed a deal to build an international airport in Rwanda at a cost of $ 818 million, the company and government officials said.
The construction of the new Bugesera International Airport was mulled in 2011 when it was first announced that the government was seeking for the private sector to design, build, finance, maintain and operate the airport through a 25-year concession.
The first phase of the airport, would cost $ 418 million and is expected to start in June next year and be completed by December 2018. The airport is part of a wider plan by Rwanda to attract tourists as well as boost Rwanda as a conference destination.
“The first phase is for 1.7-million passengers a year capacity and it gets all infrastructure associated for $418-million,” Mota-Engil Africa CEO Manuel Antonio Mota told reporters late on Thursday after signing an agreement with government officials.
According to Mota-Engil, the second phase costing $ 400 million was expected to raise the airport’s handling capacity to 4.5-million passengers a year.
The existing international airport in the capital Kigali has an annual capacity of 1.6-million, according to the Rwanda Civil Aviation Authority, though it has little scope for expansion.
“Bugesera International Airport is coming in at a 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, in terms of passengers,” James Musoni, Rwanda’s minister for infrastructure, said.
Construction of Bugesera Airport in Rwanda kicks off
Aviation, Travel and Logistics Limited (ATL Ltd) has its work cut out for the coming two years as the new chief executive takes office and construction works of Bugesera International Airport start.
Lucky Cheong, the new chief executive of the holding firm, said, they are extremely involved in the design of Bugesera International Airport as well as its construction. He said as construction work for the new airport begins, the firm is eager on setting up systems that will see them deliver quality services. Among the errands involved in the process, he said; involve identifying skill needs essential to develop the sector and ways to train their staff.
“We could do this by having skilled trainers and mentors which is where partners come in. We could also send our managers for benchmarking to more qualified airports,” Cheong told The New Times.
He said towards the launch of the new airport, they will try to generate demand for the airport’s services mainly by making it a highly regarded name to industry players.
“We must be conscious of international standards, we want to put our expectations elevated from the beginning when the new airlines come in,” he said on the sidelines of the Aviation Africa 2017 summit.
Currently, Kigali International Airport deals with around 800,000 passengers yearly while the new facility will deal with around 1.7 million passengers.
He stated that, in upcoming years, other than the airport, they would also build up an airport city around Bugesera and an aviation ecosystem with several players.
Akagera Aviation, Cheong added, could in the course, be most concerned in the training of staff.
Rwanda signs deal for construction of Bugesera International Airport
Rwanda has signed a Concession Agreement with the Engineering, Procurement, and Construction (EPC) contractor for the construction and operation of Bugesera International Airport. James Musoni, Minister of Infrastructure, signed the agreement on behalf of the Government of Rwanda while Manuel Mota, Chief Executive Officer of Monta-Engil signed on behalf of the Engineering, Procurement, and Construction (EPC) contractor
In the development of the project, ALSF provided assistance to the Government of Rwanda. Additionally, the provisions of legal advisers have also supported the government in its negotiations between project partners in the Concession Agreement for the construction and development of the Airport. The coordination of legal efforts has also been instrumental in ensuring the signing, first of a Project Development Agreement and Joint-Venture Agreement between the Rwandan government and investor, and subsequently of the Concession Agreement.
“We have anticipated this project for close to 10 years, all the while relying largely on local expertise,” said Emmanuel Rugambwa, a Strategic Investment Analyst at the Rwanda Development Board. “When we approached the ALSF, they swiftly helped us procure the required expertise to structure the project such that it attracts private capital. Since then, we’ve had many banks express interest in joining the project. The ALSF grant also includes a capacity building component which ensures that the procured experts will train Rwandans to monitor the project’s development, as well as to structure future projects in a similar manner,” he added.
The project’s implementation phase and expectations
The US$700mn Bugesera International Airport project is designed to be executed across 4 phases. Phase I will involve approximately 27 months of construction – at an estimated cost of US$400mn. The construction work on phase I is expected to be completed by 2019, at which point the airport will be able to accommodate 1.8 million passengers and 150 million tonnes of cargo annually.
Phase II of the airport project will incorporate building a second runway to approximate the capacity of the largest world airports. The airport is also designed to provide leisure, hotels, and conference facilities. It is further hoped a free trade zone will be created in the area which will spur economic development.
Through the development of Bugesera Airport Rwanda has an ambitious strategic Vision 2020 which aims to transform the country into a knowledge-based, middle-income country by the end of the decade – as well as the country’s Economic Development and Poverty Reduction Strategy (EDPRS).
However, the Bugesera International Airport project is designed and is being implemented with an aim of generating socio-economic development in Bugesera, Kigali, and other parts of the Eastern Province. The airport will further sustain the development of the aviation sector by backstopping the growth of RwandAir with new facilities and training opportunities. The project is expected to provide approximately 2,000 jobs for local residents.
TPS, a British engineering firm, was in 2009 employed by the Rwandan government to design and carry out a feasibility study to develop a new airport in Nyamata village in Bugesera, 40 km south of Kigali.
In August 2017, construction works began with Mota-Engil Africa, a subsidy of Mota-Engil Group, as the main contractor. 75% of the funding was provided by the Portuguese group while Rwandan company Aviation Travel and Logistics (ATL) provided the remaining 25%. ATL would also provide ground handling services at the airport upon completion. The first phase of the project was expected to be completed in 2019.
The construction on some parts of the airport was however halted temporarily to pave way for a redesign which would among other things help the airport to meet “green standards” and be among the first airports to achieve ‘green’ certification.
Construction works on Bugesera International Airport in good progress
Construction works on proposed Rwanda’s Bugesera International Airport are well underway. Edwin Benzinge Rukyalekere, the Operations Manager of Bugesera Airport Company (BAC), said the construction is expected to be concluded in two years’ time and is optimistic they will meet the 2020 deadline for having concluded the first phase.
“We are very optimistic and hope to meet the target of 2020 even though I can’t specify the exact date when construction will be done, due to a few challenges that tend to cause delays like climate change,” said Edwin Benzinge Rukyalekere.
In September 2016, the government concluded negotiations and came to a concessional agreement with BAC, a public-private partnership transaction to build, own, operate for 25 years, and transfer the facility to the Government after the operation period.
The main driving factors include making the airport and the country a regional hub, and the main home base of national carrier Rwanda Air and its strategy for future expansion.
The new airport, once complete, will have a passenger terminal with 30,000 square miles, 22 check-in counters, 10 gates, and 6 passenger boarding bridges, among others. The airport is expected to facilitate several long-haul flights from Europe, USA, and Asia.
Qatar Airway’s new Bugesera International Airport in Rwanda set for completion in 2022
Phase 1 of Bugesera International Airport construction a joint venture between Rwanda and Qatar Airways is on course for completion in 2022. The $1.5 billion worth project will handle seven million passengers, with the next phase expected to accommodate 14 million passengers.
Rwanda and Qatar Airways had signed an airport deal that will see the two parties set up a joint venture to build, own, and operate the new airport in the district of Bugesera.
The airline had agreed to take a 60 percent stake in the new $1.5bn international airport in Rwanda, the state-run Rwanda Development Board said on Twitter. The second part of the deal was a share purchase agreement. When the airport project was initiated about two years ago under Bugesera Airport Company, Rwanda partnered with Mota Engil with the former as the majority shareholder of 75 percent in the project.
In the new deal, Rwanda had to purchase the 75 percent shareholding from the Portuguese firm to hold 100 percent before selling the 60 percent to the airline. The third part of the agreement is one of security, considering that Aviation Travel and Logistics Holdings is entering the agreement on behalf of the Government of Rwanda, it is necessary to have a security agreement to establish that they are guaranteed by the government.
The Rwanda Development Board mentioned that the first phase of construction would provide facilities for seven million passengers a year in the Bugesera district, about 25km southeast of the capital Kigali. A second phase, expected to be completed by 2032, would double capacity to 14 million passengers a year.
Previous plans for the airport expected them to have the capacity to process 1.7 million passengers in the first phase. The new capacity under the Rwanda and Qatar Airways airport deal will see the airport not only serve Rwanda but the region as a hub, this has in effect, drove up the cost of the facility to about $1.3B for the two phases whereas the previous plans of the airport’s first and second phases were estimated at around $825M.
Bugesera International Airport phase 1 to be delivered by Dec 2022
The first phase of Bugesera International Airport in Rwanda will be delivered by December this year according to Hon. Claver Gatete, the Rwandan Minister of Infrastructure.
The minister made the announcement during the recent 5-day Executive Workshop of the Union of Central and West African Airport Managers (UGAACO) which aims to improve skills for the efficient management of airports and ensure an appropriate degree of global standardization and quality leadership competencies through experience exchange on airport management challenges.
“The construction activities of the US$ 1.3bn airport were hampered partly by modifications made to some aspects of the project, and partly by the COVID-19 pandemic where only 50% of workers are allowed on the site at a go. However, to this point the horizontal works, including the construction of runaways and other infrastructure that are required for an airplane to land, are nearly 40% complete,”
“We have also started recruitments for the construction of terminals and other required buildings, and we plan to start the works in the next two months. Generally, we are doing our level best to have construction activities on this phase completed by the end of next year,” explained Hon. Gatete.
The second and last phase of the project is expected to start by 2032.
Expectations for the project
The construction of the Bugesera International Airport began back in August 2017 with Mota Engil Engenharia e Construcao Africa as the main contractor.
Upon completion, the airport will serve approximately seven million passengers per year for the first phase and 14 million passengers a year following the completion of the second phase. It will become Rwanda’s largest International Airport, serving commercial flights destined to and from the greater Kigali metropolitan area, and the country’s 8th airport overall.