Rwanda’s national carrier, RwandAir on Tuesday launched its regional hub in Benin to effectively serve Western and Central Africa.
RwandAir route to Cotonou-Benin was opened in 2016 connecting Rwanda to West Africa adding to already established routes including; Douala, Accra, Libreville, Abidjan and Lagos.
According to RwandAir officials,Cotonou is already a vibrant trade hub in Western Africa. It is also expected to boost tourism between Rwanda and the region that borders with Atlantic Ocean.
At the launch of Cotonou office, Aurelien Agbenonchi Benin’s Foreign Affairs Minister said the move, “is a result of cooperation agreement signed between Rwanda and Benin last year.
According to Agbenonchi, part of the agreement stipulates that 51% of the returns from Cotonou flights will go to Benin, while Rwanda will take 49%.
Launching RwandAir hub in Cotonou coincided with Benin’s Independence Day.
“We chose the launch to be on such a memorable day to affirm bilateral cooperation between our countries and the beginning of an achievement that will serve our mutual interests,” Louise Mushikiwabo, Rwanda’s Foreign Affairs Minister said at the launch.
Meanwhile, Benin is a strategic destination for RwandAir. According to the International Air Traffic Transport Association (IATTA), the top 10 fastest growing world markets for air travel over the next 20 years will be in Africa.
The top 10 fastest growing markets are Benin, Central African Republic, Guinea, Madagascar, Mali, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Togo, Uganda and Zambia.
RwandAir reaches to 23 destinations including 19 in Africa.
Foundation stone for Bugesera airport
As RwandAir expands, country air transport also expands too.
According to Ministry of infrastructure, next week, Rwanda will begin construction of the $818 Million Bugesera International airport but landscaping started a couple of months ago.
In September 2016 Rwandan government signed an agreement with Mota-Engil Africa, a Portuguese based company to develop, do engineering work, procurement, and construction of the airport.
The agreement comprised of construction and operation of the Airport project for a 25-year period with an optional 15 years extension to be executed in four phases.
The first phase of the project is expected to be completed by December 2018 with $418 m cost to accommodate 1, 7 million of passengers every year.
The Minister of Infrastructure James Musoni told KT Press on Tuesday, “We have reached a phase of laying a foundation stone to officially launch construction works. This event is due next week.”
Upon completion of the $ 414 m first phase, extension works will be undertaken, to upgrade the capacity to 4.5 million passengers annually. The extension will require additional $400 million, bringing the total cost of the project to $ 818 million.
“If all goes well, we will conclude the financial close by December this year,” Musoni said.
Additional Reporting by Umuhire Clarisse