KIGALI, Aug. 9 (Xinhua) -- Rwandan President Paul Kagame on Wednesday formally laid the foundation stone paving way for the construction of the Bugesera International airport in Bugesera district, Eastern Province.
The construction of the new International airport, with a passenger handling capacity of 4.5 million passengers a year will cost 818 million U.S. dollars, according to the Rwandan ministry of infrastructure.
The multimillion dollar facility is expected to accommodate the growing air traffic as Rwanda is developing into a conference and business hub.
Speaking at the inauguration, Kagame said that the new airport is an essential component in boosting intra-African travel, investment and business.
"Bugesera Airport is an important part of Rwanda's strategy for socio-economic transformation. We are as determined as you are to see this airport completed and operational. We may not be big but we will always strive to be our best. Rwandans to whom we are accountable are used to having high expectations and trust us to deliver. This will be no different," said the president.
In September 2016, the government of Rwanda signed partnership deal with a Portuguese firm to deliver the modern international airport.
According to the agreement, the Portuguese company is undertaking the project under a public-private partnership on a 25-year concession, with an optional 15-year extension.
The construction of the much anticipated Bugesera airport will be in two phases whereby the first stage will cost 418 million U.S. dollars with the capacity to handle 1.7 million passengers a year and it will be completed in 2018.
Rwanda has already upgraded its two airports, Kigali International Airport and Kamembe airport, while a feasibility study for modernizing Rubavu airport has been finalized.
The Rwanda aviation industry which has become one of the largest and most profitable airlines in East Africa has continued to spread wings across Africa and beyond.
The national airline Rwandair has been growing at an average of 20 percent in the last six years and is currently positioning itself as the most efficient and reliable airline in the region, according to figures from Rwanda's ministry of infrastructure.