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First they don’t and now they do: JKIA expansion is on again

Information is emerging that the Kenya Airports Authority is negotiating for a $290 million loan from the World Bank/IFC to finance an expansion of facilities at East Africa’s main aviation hub, Jomo

Information is emerging that the Kenya Airports Authority is negotiating for a $290 million loan from the World Bank/IFC to finance an expansion of facilities at East Africa’s main aviation hub, Jomo Kenyatta International Airport.

The move promptly raised eyebrows and caused some acid comments, as it comes just a year after ‘Project Greenfield’ was cancelled, destroying any hope that a long overdue and much needed second runway would be ready anytime soon.

Part of the project, besides the second runway – something KAA and the Kenyan government have since been pursuing as a separate project – was also to add a completely new passenger terminal. Those who a year ago said it would add too much capacity are now seemingly changing direction again, but at a huge cost of having to compensate the contractors chosen at the time who found their contract suddenly cancelled.

President Kenyatta, who had launched ‘Project Greenfield’ with much fanfare and pomp, must also now face questions why a year ago he tried to justify the cancellation of the project, when a fresh expansion plan is now being pursued.

In the wider region, Addis Ababa is adding a new airport, further cementing Ethiopian Airline’s standing in Africa, while Rwanda too is building a new airport under BOOT, short for build, own, operate and transfer, outside the capital Kigali, at Bugesera. These challenges to Nairobi’s leadership may ultimately have tipped the scale and brought the expansion project back to life.

Sources close to the KAA claim that new CEO Jonny Andersen was taken aback by the cancelation of ‘Project Greenfield’ and lobbied for a revival of major airport expansion plans for JKIA to keep the airport ahead of the anticipated passenger growth of traffic into and across Africa, and maintain cutting edge technology for what is, without doubt, East Africa’s leading international airport.