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New Kigali airport will be around 70 percent complete by year-end: Rwanda President

Rwanda President Paul Kagame during an interview with Jennifer Zabasajja at the Qatar Economic Forum yesterday.

Doha: Rwanda President Paul Kagame said around 70% of the new Kigali airport could be complete by the end of this year, with a target of having the facility ‘up and running’ by the fourth quarter of 2024.

The East African leader made this known yesterday during a session on the opening day of the third Qatar Economic Forum in Doha. In the same breath, Kagame hailed the strategic partnership with Qatar, stating that the country is one of the strongest partners of Africa and Rwanda.

“We are partnering in the airline, but also in the airport. Work is in progress; we’re just trying to speed it up to ensure we are ready and running,” Kagame said.

“The airline (RwandAir) is very strong already. It’s growing very fast. The airport, maybe we should be around 70% of that done by the end of the year. In the next year, we shall see things standing and growing sometime in the third or fourth quarter,” he added.

In February 2020, Qatar Airways acquired a 49% stake in RwandAir before both airlines signed a codeshare agreement in 2021. Qatar Airways also has significant investment reaching 60% ownership of the new airport. Qatar’s national carrier also recently launched its first cargo hub outside Doha in Kigali.

According to Kagame, leaders must be aware of the global situation and find ways to invest and grow, especially for small countries.

“We, therefore, have to have a vision of what we want to do and then forge these partnerships. One of our strongest partners for Rwanda and Africa is Qatar, and it was a partnership of choice that we made. In Qatar, we are partnering in aviation. Qatar Airways is a leader in this sector, and we have been looking at other areas where we can work together,” he added.

Meanwhile, Kagame disclosed that Rwanda will start manufacturing vaccines in August this year in partnership with BioNTech.

The Rwandan leader also stressed that there’s an ongoing process to find lasting stability regarding the crisis between Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The region was plunged into violence after the M23 rebel group relaunched its offensives in March 2022. He said discussions are being held with the East African bloc leading one and Angola the other, while the African Union is also involved in the process. Kagame also didn’t rule out future meetings with the DRC president Felix Tshisekedi.

Speaking about the UK-Rwanda asylum agreement, President Kagame said the Rwandans are ready to receive and process the migrants but called on the UK to be prepared on their part. He said the deal was to resolve a global migration crisis with “a safer alternative that would save lives.”

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