Bugesera Int'l Airport: Africa’s Most Exciting Airport Project?
In August 2017, the foundation stone for Bugesera Airport, Rwanda was laid by President Paul Kagame. Rwanda has designs on becoming an aviation hub for Africa and this state-of-the-art infrastructure along with investment in the national airline, RwandAir, proves that the country is looking to aviation to catalyse its growth.
Bugesera Airport company will be actively participating in AviaDev Africa and taking meetings with potential airport and airline partners across the event. Ahead of the AviaDev coming up in Kigali in October, Jon Howell (JH) of AviaDev caught up with the Managing Director, Maciej Michalek (MM) to find out more:
JH: Mota-Engil is a huge player globally in infrastructure development, including airport construction. What appealed to Mota-Engil specifically about the Bugesera project?
MM: Aviation is developing significantly in the African continent and proper infrastructure is needed as soon as possible. The strong growth and stability in Rwanda, made us believe in the potential for such Project. Of course, the main issue is to guarantee that the Airport will grow together with the traffic needs and the Government of Rwanda’s development expectations, which resulted in the division of the Airport project into phases, in order to guarantee its feasibility. This Project shows that private investment in this segment can be successfully implemented in accordance with the given requirements. Mota-Engil was created 71 years ago in Angola, and we have been consistently present in the African market since that date, treating it as one of our main target markets with growth potential. Additionally, the strong belief and knowledge we have of Africa were also major factors for us to push forward from a very early stage this project.
JH: Are there plans for the airport to be a mixed-use zone?
MM: On the landside, we are planning to develop an airport city, including offices, hotel, and commercial spaces. Of course, this will be phased over time. The Government of Rwanda is planning to further develop neighbouring areas also by creating special economic zones and an entertainment park, which will be a good complement to the growing tourism industry in Rwanda. Here it should be said, that the local Authorities are really eager to cooperate with investors in order to develop their Country. An integrated Master Plan will be developed in partnership with local authorities to ensure that the vision for the Bugesera region is for the benefit of all stakeholders. That’s very important from the private business perspective.
JH: Mota-Engil has a concession to operate the facility for 25 years with an option to extend for a further 15 years. Will you operate the airport by yourselves or look to involve other organisations?
MM: The operation is the most important factor to guarantee the success of the project and that the airport is run with proper know-how, best practices, and the highest standard of the services and quality. This shall also be done with the incorporation to the maximum of local content, and building it up into international standards, but it is important to know that the current airport already has some of the highest standards and operational records in Africa. The incorporation of the team at Kigali International Airport to Bugesera, independent of the model, will allow for a very smooth and efficient start of operations at Bugesera, building on existing expertise and improving the efficiency.
JH: Are Mota-Engil actively interested or involved in other PPP projects in the African aviation sphere?
MM: Aviation is a sector with huge growth potential, and naturally, ME is very keen to continue developing opportunities in this area across the continent.