Kenya signed a USD 66 million (kshs.5.9 billion) financing agreement with the French Agency for Development (AFD) on Wednesday, for the rehabilitation and upgrading of the Moi international airport in Mombasa, the country’s second biggest airport after the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) in Nairobi.
Mombasa International Airport is a key entry point for tourists with more than eighteen airlines serving directly from Europe, and offers connections to more than twenty cities in the region.
The port city is a renowned tourist destination with an average of one million tourists visiting the Coast of Kenya annually, but these number has declined in the recent years because of attacks linked to Islamists, which led some western countries to issue travel warnings to Kenya.
The city is also a commercial and business platform, among the largest within the east African region, with the port of Mombasa being the hub port of the region.
Yves Boudot, AFD’s regional director said the loan was intended to help upgrade the airport in a wider move to position Kenya as the region’s key business hub.
“Through the financing of the rehabilitation of Mombasa International Airport, AFD intends to contribute to Kenya’s and the East Africa Community’s economic growth and to enhance competitiveness advantage of the region,” Boudot said.
“In Kenya, air transport is a key issue for channeling hard currencies coming from tourism and high-value exports for perishable goods, e.g. flowers and vegetables. This project will be the second AFD intervention in civil aviation in Kenya.”
In June 2010, the agency signed a USD 93 Million deal with the Kenya Airports Authority (KAA) for the construction of a new Terminal at the JKIA.
Lucy Mbugua, KAA’s managing director said the loan would support the rehabilitation of the Mombasa airport’s airside pavements, including ground lighting and upgrading of power and water supply.
“We must continually develop our country’s aviation infrastructure to not only cope with demand and capacity constraints but serve as a catalyst for the country’s economic prosperity, by adequately serving all our customers at world class standards,” Mbugua said.