Zambia’s New Ndola Airport to Raise Aviation Industry’s Profile, Stimulate Country’s Economy

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Zambia’s $400 Million new modern international airport whose construction was financed with a government-to-government loan from China’s Export-Import Bank, is expected to transform and stimulate the nation’s economy through infrastructure development and reposition it as a major aviation hub in Africa.

The Simon Mwansa Kapwepwe International Airport in Ndola, the country’s second largest city and the commercial hub of its central copper producing region was commissioned last week by Edgar Lungu, president of Zambia.

Construction of the airport started in 2017 and it was being designed by the Aviation Industry Corporation of China (Avic).

Commissioning the international airport, Lungu appreciated the Chinese efforts and support reiterating that the newly designed airport will play a crucial role in facilitating the country’s tourism and industrialization agenda as well as key in elevating the development agenda to another level.

He said it will position itself as a cargo hub and a strategic part of an aviation infrastructure. According to projected statistics from Zambia Airports Corporation Limited, the new international airport is expected to handle 8,000tonnes of cargo per annum.

Today marks a key milestone in the transportation sector and the aviation subsector, in particular, as we continue on our journey to repositioning Zambia as a major aviation hub in Africa. This is a fulfillment of my government’s agenda to transform the country through infrastructure development and harnessing the country’s economic potential,” he said.

Travellers to Ndola, Lungu said, can now experience the world-class look and feel here at the new Simon Mwansa Kapwepwe International Airport.”

Being situated in Copperbelt province, with a population of over two million people, the facility is expected to attract large-scale investments in various sectors ranging from mining, agriculture, infrastructure, manufacturing, to wholesale and retail trade.

The airport is in close proximity with the Democratic Republic of Congo’s Katanga Province and will improve business between the two countries, it has been learnt.

Avic Senior Consultant, Lei Yinqui said the 3.5km runway and the terminal would be able to accommodate a million passengers a year and replaces the old Simon Mwansa Kapwepwe International Airport, formerly Ndola International Airport.

He expressed his gratitude to the Zambian government for the support rendered to the company in the construction.

Yinqui highlighted that during construction of the Simon Mwansa Kapwepwe International Airport, a plethora of jobs were created stressing that the airport will present various business opportunities for local businesses once it becomes fully operational.

During construction, 800 local jobs were created during the work, and that more than 20 local subcontractors earned $40m in fees. Local businesses benefited from the project through the supply of materials while about 2,700 people were employed during the construction period.”

The company worked in partnership with various government agencies and fulfilled the government policy of having 20 percent sub-contracting to local contractors by engaging 60 local sub-contractors,” said Yinqui.

He emphasised that the expertise gained by the local employees and sub-contractors will go a long way supporting their lifetime construction operations.

Despite the difficulties encountered, which include the impact of the global Covid-19 pandemic, Yinqui said Avic has been able to continue with the development meeting international standards.

The facility has a business complex of a 12,000sqm terminal building with a capacity of one million passengers, a 28-metre-high control tower, a fire and rescue station, cargo terminal and aircraft maintenance hangar, a 3.5km category class Erunway with the ability to accommodate wide body aircraft and a 50-room hotel among other amenities.

The class E runway will be able to accommodate large aircraft such as Boeing 747/777, Airbus 350 and MD 11.

Recently, CAA Director General Gabriel Lesa said the new airport will enhance the institution’s aviation oversight.

Lesa said CAA seeks to provide effective and efficient regulatory services to the aviation industry, ensure legal compliance and provide safety assurance with value for money for all air transport users in Zambia.

It has also been highlighted that the new airport will contribute positively to the relevance of Lusaka’s Zambia Air Services Training Institute the provision of manpower.


By Joyce Mukucha

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