Mozambique begins construction of new US$102 million airport


Mozambique is spending US$102 to turn its northern Nacala military air base into an international airport in an effort to attract tourists and investment to the region.

Construction has begun on the new Nacala International Airport, Mozambique’s deputy transport minister Manuela Ribelo told AFP yesterday. “It will cost $102 million,” she added.

The state controlled Noticias newspaper on Monday said the project will process 300 000 passengers per year and will handle direct flights to destinations in Africa, Asia and the Americas.

The conversion of the air base is being handled by Brazilian construction and engineering company Odebrecht SA. Earlier this month Odebrecht said if all goes according to plan, the airport would open as soon as January 13, Airport World reports.

Nacala is a strategic place for the development of transport infrastructure as it has Mozambique’s only deepwater port. This will serve as an export centre for landlocked neighbours like Zambia and Malawi as soon as a railway is built to connect southern Africa to the city, AFP noted.

One company that would be interested in operating from the facilities is the US-based Ayr Logistics, which is building a US$5.5 billion oil refinery in northern Mozambique.

Meanwhile, on Wednesday Mozambican President Armando Guebuza inaugurated a new passenger and cargo terminal at Vilankulo airport, Ribelo said. Vilanko airport is located in the south of Mozambique close to the Bazaruto Islands. The airport recently received a US$10 million upgrade that tripled its capacity to receive 200 000 passengers a year, the independent newspaper O Pais reported.

Last year Maputo International Airport was overhauled at a cost of US$75 million to accommodate 900,000 travellers per annum, AFP reports. In addition, construction has begun on a new domestic terminal for the country’s busiest airport.