New design of much awaited Bugesera International Airport

By Zaninka Umutesi
On 16 September 2022 at 09:56

Rwandans and tourists are eagerly awaiting the completion of Bugesera International Airport considered as one of mega projects expected to make Rwanda a hub for tourism, investment and other services in the region.

Construction activities of the eco-friendly airport began in 2017. Later in 2018, the progress delayed awaiting negotiations with Qatar as a new investor to acquire 60% shares.

In 2019, the Government of Rwanda and Qatar Airways have signed partnership agreement that saw the latter investing in the construction of Bugesera International Airport (BIA) estimated to cost $1.3 billion at completion.

The agreement put an end to a previous deal signed in 2016 between Rwanda and Societe Mota-Engil Engenharia e Construção África, SA. from Portugal to build the airport in two phases. Initially, the project was estimated to cost US$820 million where Mota-Engil Africa had to manage the airport for 25 years that could be extended by more 15 years.

The first phase of the project was due to be completed in 2022, but was subjected to changes including the redesign of its master plan, coupled with effects of Covid-19 pandemic that delayed construction activities.

The current plan indicates that the airport will be built in two phases with the first expected to be completed in 2024/25.

Under the new agreement, the airport is expected to accommodate at least 8.2 million people per year against 4.5 million in the first master plan. It can also host 1225 passengers in its busiest hour.

The new design was showcased to participants of the 6th Aviation Africa Summit and Exhibition held in Kigali this week who were taken through a virtual tour of the airport.

The airport is being constructed in Rilima Sector of Bugesera District, Eastern Province.

It has large gates for dignitaries and ordinary passengers. Bugesera International Airport also has large passenger, staff checkpoints and cargo terminal.

With a cargo area of 27,000 square meters, at least 150,000 tons are expected to be transited through the airport per year.

The facility also has a separate boarding gate for staff and a Presidential Terminal Building which can accommodate 200 people.

A space for vehicles of security personnel, communication towers has been also reserved.

Regarding the parking lot, it is planned that parking for 249 vehicles will be built for staff in the first phase.

The management will also have a parking lot for 254 excluding the space for 12 large buses.

As for regular passengers, there is a parking lot for 547 cars, 249 taxi cabs and 9 large buses in the first phase.

A five-storey building with the capacity to accommodate 820 people will also be erected for the airport’s administration.

It will also have 4500-meter runway.

As he officiated the opening of the 6th Aviation Africa Summit and Exhibition, President Paul Kagame said that liberalization of air transport in Africa can act as a catalyst to speed up the aviation industry’s recovery, by increasing connectivity, stimulating demand and creating jobs.

He revealed that open skies help to link businesses to regional and global supply chains, boost trade and investment where ‘the full implementation of the Single African Air Transport Market must remain a top priority’.

The Head of State reminisced on Rwanda’s efforts highlighting that the country continues to do its part.

“Currently, RwandAir, our national carrier, serves 24 routes, 19 of which are in Africa. We intend to continue expanding within the continent and abroad,” he stated.

“We are working together with our partner, Qatar Airways, to grow RwandAir and build Kigali’s new international airport, currently under construction, into a regional hub for passengers and cargo,” added Kagame.

The artistic impression of Bugesera International Airport.