How Rwandan Aviation Is Moving The Country Closer To Conference Hub Status

Written by Dana Sanchez

Kigali International Airport was ranked third-fastest growing in Africa in 2016. Rwanda has scheduled a string of aviation events from February to November that it hopes will help bolster its growing tourism sector.

The country has a new convention center to host such events. In July it celebrated the opening of Kigali’s new five-star Radisson Blu Hotel & Convention Centre.

More than 2,700 aviation experts are expected to attend five major international aviation events that include Aviation Africa 2017 and Africa Airport Summit, both scheduled for February at the Kigali Convention Center.

The events are a major boost to Rwanda’s hard work in improving its aviation services and facilities to international standards, Kigali Today reported.

From Kigali Today. Story by Daniel Sabiiti.

Hosting such events is part of Rwanda’s bid to attract more international conferences.

“The events create networking opportunities as a channel for increased investment, knowledge sharing and exposure,” said Tony Barigye, spokesman for the Rwanda Civil Aviation Authority.


For past decade, Rwanda has been expanding its aviation industry with renewed government commitment. New technologies like drones resulted in the construction of the first drone port on the continent last year.

Rwanda injected $19 million for expansion of Kigali International Airport. Terminal expansion resulted in faster baggage handling, no queues at the check-in or immigration counters, installation of lifts, and escalators easing movement within the terminal building for people with disabilities.

“The new infrastructure has more than doubled the handling capacity,” Barigye said.

Kigali International Airport was ranked third fastest growing in Africa in 2016, among the three top airports with highest number of seats according to ForwardKeys; and with a growth of 11.2 percent in East Africa compared to same period the previous year.

In October Rwanda started construction of the $818 million Bugesera Airport after it was clear that flights and passenger traffic at Kigali International Airport were increasing rapidly. The government signed a deal with Portuguese firm Mota Engil Engenharia e Construcao Africa – to deliver the facility as matter of urgency.

Phase one of the airport will cost $418 million, scheduled for completion by December 2018. The contractor will deliver the facility with a capacity to receive 1.7 million passengers every year.

Bugesera airport is expected to handle more flight traffic than Kigali International.

The national carrier, RwandAir has expanded its fleet to 11.

While launching the first drone port in Africa, President Paul Kagame said that Rwanda is determined to invest more because it’s convinced that technology will address the country’s challenges of the future.

“The aviation sector is becoming very important to Rwanda. That is why we are investing into aero technology. Rwandans have learned to embrace innovation, especially when it is clear that it can help us solve challenges we face,” Kagame said.

Rwanda’s aviation sector has boosted tourism. The country’s target is to become a conference hub in the region.

In 2016 Rwanda hosted the 27th African Union general assembly, Global Africa Investment Summit, and Forum for Agriculture Research in Africa.

The $300 million, five-star Radisson Blu Hotel & Convention Centre opened in July in Kigali. The convention center can seat 2,500 people.

Read more at Kigali Today.