More than 2700 aviation experts from Africa will in February begin touching down in Rwanda’s capital Kigali to participate in a string of aviation events lined up to November – Rwanda will project the growing strength of its aviation sector.
Five major international aviation events that include Aviation Africa 2017 which will take place on 22-23rd February 2017 and Africa Airport Summit both scheduled for February till November.
The marathon aviation events are a major boost to Rwanda’s hard work injected in improving the aviation services and facilities to international standards.
Aviation experts, exhibitions by renowned aviation companies and keynote speakers are expected to share their global experience in Rwanda at the recently inaugurated Kigali Convention Center (KCC).
Two consecutive events ‘Aviation Africa Event’ air shows this year and in 2018 have also been lined up. This year’s 2nd Aviation Africa Event (airshow) will attract 70 key international speakers, 500 participants while the latter will attract 1000 participants.
Hosting such events is part of Rwanda’s bid for hosting more international conferences through the Rwanda MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions) Initiative but also an endorsement for strides taken by the country’s aviation sector since 2012.
“This shows Rwanda’s aviation is growing at a high pace towards hub status and connecting to the global mainstream of aviation industry through these events. The events create networking opportunities as a channel for increased investment, knowledge sharing and exposure,” Said Tony Barigye, the Rwanda Civil Aviation Authority (RCAA) Public Relations Officer.
With the big number of aviation experts convening in Kigali, Barigye said that Rwanda is counting on; networking, investments opportunities, and knowledge sharing crucial to human resource in the aviation industry.
How Rwanda laid firm aviation ground
For past decade, Rwanda has been expanding its aviation industry with the government making renewed commitment to support the sector. There has also been inclusion of new technologies like Unmanned Aircraft Vehicles – drones which necessitated the construction of the first drone- port on the continent last year.
Government of Rwanda has injected $19 million for expansion of Kigali International Airport land-side upgrading, and terminal expansion which greatly impacted service provision.
The upgrade resulted into faster baggage handling, no queues at the check- in or immigration counters, installation of lifts, and escalators easing movement within the terminal building for both able bodied and People with Disabilities (PWDs).
“The new infrastructure has more than doubled the handling capacity and greatly improved service provision up to internationally recommended standards and practices, as well as enhancing safety and security for travelers, operators and other aviation stakeholders,” Barigye said.
Unlike in other airports around the world, passengers waiting for a flight at Kigali international airport enjoy comfort-because there are more seats available.
Kigali International Airport has since been ranked 3rd Fastest Growing in Africa in 2016, among top three airports with high number of seats according to ForwardKeys; and with a growth of 11.2% in East Africa compared to same period last year.
In October last year Rwanda embarked on construction of the $818m Bugesera Airport after it was clear that flights and passenger traffic at Kigali International Airport was increasing rapidly. Government signed a deal with Portuguese firm Mota Engil Engenharia e Construcao Africa – to deliver the facility as matter of urgency.
Phase I of the airport will cost $418 million, scheduled for completion by December 2018. The contractor will deliver the facility with a capacity to receive 1.7 million passengers every year.
Bugesera airport which is expected to handle more flight traffic compared to Kigali International Airport and upon completion of this phase, extension works will be undertaken, to upgrade the capacity to 4.5 million passengers annually.
The extension will require an additional of $400 million, bringing the total cost of the project to $818 million. In terms of capacity, the national carrier, RwandAir has bought more aircrafts expanding its fleet to 11 (Two Airbus; A330-200 “Ubumwe” and A330-300 “Umurage” with 244 and 274 seats respectively).
While launching the first drone port in Africa, President Paul Kagame said that Rwanda is determined to invest more because it’s convinced that technology will address the country’s challenges of the future and this will only be possible by working with good partners and getting citizens involved.
“The aviation sector is becoming very important to Rwanda that is why we are investing into aero technology. Rwandans have learned to embrace innovation, especially when it is clear that it can help us solve challenges we face,” Kagame said recently while in Gandhinagar city in Western India.
Rwanda’s aviation sector has boosted tourism – the country targets to become a conference hub in the region.
In 2016 alone Rwanda hosted a number of important conferences in Kigali, including the 27th African Union general assembly, Global Africa Investment Summit, and Forum for Agriculture Research in Africa(FARA).
The country increased facilities to host the summit with the most known; 5 star Radisson Blu Hotel and Kigali Convention Centre.