Kenya signs deal with Qatar to make airport African hub

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The Kenya Airports Authority (KAA) has signed a Shs 27.3 billion (US$ 350 million) deal with Qatar’s Afro-Asia Investment Corporation (AAIC) for the development of a high class airport hotel and a conference centre.

Signing the deal at the KAA offices here, Managing Director, George Muhoho, said the investment was in line with the ongoing expansion programme at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, Nairobi.

He added that the investment would bring in much needed benefits to the aviation industry and the national economy. Muhuho further explained that both the Cabinet and the KAA board had approved the project. The deal entailed signing the lease documents, concession documents and contract agreement.

The project involves construction of a 450-room, five-star hotel, convention centre, exhibition centres, international financial centre for Africa, multi-media centre, Europe and American trade centre, bonded warehouse and five office blocks, among other facilities.

He further explained that the new development in the aviation industry was a culmination of three years of negotiations with the Qatari government on the need to bring on board private sectors and to develop Jomo Kenyatta International Airport into a premier hub.

“Afro Asia Investment Corporation has been keen to expand its ties into Africa and after evaluating potential investments options within the region, it settled for this development,” he said.

Further, the deal has been signed a month after President Mwai Kibaki, visited Qatar and initiated negotiations for a $3.5 billion loan to help in building a new port in the Indian Ocean island of Lamu.

Under the deal, the Kenyan government has leased a 90-acre piece of land to the Qatari investment institution for a period of 80 years whereby Kenya would be getting a percentage of the gross earnings.

The project will take three years to complete whereby the first year is destined for ground breaking while the other two will see the institution undertake the project in addition to and completing it. Muhuho said KAA would receive US$ 1 million for the first five years as concession fees.

KAA chairman, Erastus Mwongera, said the project would contribute to increased aircraft and passenger traffic resulting in increased revenue, provide Nairobi and JKIA with an aesthetic attraction, publicity and consequently real estate value.

Employment and gateway

It will also provide employment opportunity to over 5,000 Kenyans, increase consumption of local building materials, consumable goods, housing and services.

He added that the project would be unique and the largest expo and convention centre ever established, making Kenya the trade and gateway hub in the region, facilitate the promotion of trade, information and experiences.

It will also transfer technology and maximise foreign direct investment and the government will benefit from the over 1,000 foreign companies expected to establish trade liaison offices at the centre.

The AAIC Managing Director and Chief Kenyan Executive Officer, Dr. Mohamad Kilani, said: “We are proud and confident that this landmark project will be the first of its kind in Africa. Indeed, it goes without saying that such huge investment will bring a great benefit to Kenya in this critical time of global economic crisis.”

He said his firm expected that the project would stimulate the Kenyan economy and create more than 5,000 new jobs.

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