European Investment Bank Funds Upgrade Tanzania Airports

The European Union long-standing lending institution, the European Investment Bank (EIB), has granted a 50 million euro loan to be used in the expansion and upgrading of five airports across Tanzania in order to better meet international safety standards and ensure that they are equipped to deal with all weather operations.

The 50 million euro loan will help to fund the development project through a long-term distribution period over the next 20 years.

The five airports that are scheduled to benefit from the EIB loan program are the Bukoba, Kigoma, Shinyanga, Sumbawanga, and Tabora airports.

Money from the loan will not only help to further develop the quality and availability of air transportation to the more remote parts of western Tanzania, but will also help to expand the airport gateways in preparation for the projected growth in traffic and tourism.

According to reports, the development of these airports will be directly related to the overall economic development of the country and as a result of the improved transport connections both within the country and throughout of East Africa, private sector growth will also be encourages.

Plutarchos Sakellaris, the Vice President of the EIB, has recently expressed the bank’s commitment to supporting growth within the private sector through the development of transportation.

“Improving transport infrastructure is essential for sustainable growth in Tanzania,” said the Vice President, “The European Investment Bank is committed to supporting transport projects that help private sector growth, improve connections to remote areas and strengthen regional integration across East Africa.”

In addition, the Deputy Minister for Transport, Athumani Mfutakamba, also recently spoke to the Tanzania Daily News saying that the development of these five major domestic airports is critical to the economic development of the country.

“Upgrading the airports will encourage economic development in the country,” said Mr. Mfutakamba, “It will support tourism growth and make air transport cheaper and easier for traders, ordinary passengers and government officials.”

The Deputy Minister went on to explain that the development of these five airports will likely result in a push to develop other airports within the country.

For example, Mr. Mfutakamba indicated that the Songwa airport in Mbeya, which is expected to open next month, and the Katavi airport, which is scheduled to receive a Boeing 787, both offer a potentially beneficial link to other international airports.

“These airports will link air transportation from Kigali, Bujumbura, Tabora to Dar es Salaam, improving business transactions, especially in the private sector,” said the Deputy Minister.

Until then, however, reports indicate that part of the current EIB funding will be used to fit airports that cannot currently operate in the rainy season with their current gravel or grass runways with all weather asphalt runways.

Additional funding will also go towards the improvement of passenger handling, aircraft parking, access roads and the construction of secure perimeter fencing for the airports involved

According to recent reports from the Tanzania Airport Authority, the civil works has already begun at Tabora, Bukoba and Kigoma airports with work for the remaining two airports, Shinyanga and Sumbawanga, scheduled to begin after three months.

Overall, the project, which will be jointly funded with the World Bank, is expected to be completed by mid-2014.