The Kenya Airports Authority (KAA) has embarked on upgrading Kisumu International Airport to boost its passenger-handling capacity.
The Sh. 240 million upgrade will see a modern passenger terminal constructed at the airport to boost capacity from the current 250, 000 passengers to 500, 000 passengers per year.
KAA Managing Director (MD) Alex Gitari said a competent contractor has been handed the project to ensure that it is completed within 90 days ahead of the 9th Africities conference to be held in Kisumu from May 17 – 23, 2022.
“We expect to have over 10, 000 delegates in Kisumu for this conference therefore this facility shall come in handy to ensure that there is adequate space to handle the increased travel,” he said.
The modern terminal building, he added, will boost capacity for the airport to handle domestic and international flights as the aviation sector recovers from the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Already we have witnessed a 10 per cent increase in air travel since the covid-19 containment measures were lifted and this shows just how the sector is growing and we must prepare for this,” he said.
Speaking during the ground breaking ceremony for the project, Gitari asked the contractor to stick within the timeframe to ensure that it is completed on time.
Devolution Principal Secretary (PS) Julius Korir said the project was among the many preparations the government has put in place to ensure that the Africities conference is successful.
Others, he said, were the ongoing construction of the Africities Convention Center at Mamboleo and the tarmacking of the Mamboleo-Uriri-Airport road to ease movement of passengers from the airport to the venue of the conference.
The projects, he disclosed, were on course and shall all be completed and handed over ahead of the conference.
The PS said the conference continues to generate a lot of interest locally and internationally with over 3, 000 delegates already registered.
Speaking during the same occasion, Kisumu Governor Prof. Anyang Nyong’o said Africities will be a game changer for the region.
Nyong’o said the hospitality sector, which is set to reap immensely from the conference, was experiencing rapid growth with more investors trickling in.
“A lot is happening in the hospitality sector and we expect to give our visitors a world class experience and this will be a great honor to our country,” he said.
The investments, he added, will last even after the conference and boost the economy of the area.
Africities is the United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG) of Africa’s flagship pan-African event that is held every three years in one of the five regions of Africa.
Kenya won the bid to host the event after putting up a successful case during the 8th conference held in Marrakech in 2018.
However the conference which was to be held in November 2020 was postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Africities attracts communities and local authorities in African countries, as well as financial institutions, civil society groups and development partners at continental and international levels.
By Chris Mahandara and Derrick Wesley