The African Development Bank (AfDB) has approved a $160 million loan (Sh16 billion) for the expansion of Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi.
In a statement on Wednesday, the bank said the loan would boost the Kenyan government’s efforts to make Nairobi an aviation hub.
The project entails the construction of a 4.9km second runway to International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) Category Two standards, including connecting taxiways, additional parking stands for aircraft, and an air rescue firefighting unit.
The existing single runway is operating at Category Flights Conditions level one (CAT-1) with a width of 45m and 4.1-kilometre long.
“The second runway will support more air traffic and facilitate increased tourism and business travel and expedite a two-way cargo traffic,” said Amadou Oumarou, Director at AfDB’s Infrastructure, Cities and Urban Development, who worked on the project.
The project is designed to improve reliability of air transport to and from JKIA by reducing delays at peak hours and costly flight diversions arising from incidences on the existing runway, as well as the configuration of the existing single runway that impede the airport’s operational efficiency.
The project is also expected to enhance regional integration and expand international trade via improved regional and international air connectivity.
Besides, the expansion will facilitate high-value exports and imports and increase tourist earnings.
In addition, the project will improve airport capacity and resilience for direct intercontinental flights to North America and Australia.
This is expected to increase access for Kenyan floricultural produce to new markets.
AfDB notes that on completion, the project will significantly increase tourism and business travel annually by 4.2 per cent between 2026 and 2052, while two-way cargo traffic is projected to annually grow by 5.1 per cent over the same period.
Together, growth arising from aviation, tourism, and floriculture, is estimated to generate about 1.5 million jobs and add approximately $22.7 billion (estimated as at 2016) in added-value to the national GDP.