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ECONOMICS Last modified on March 17, 2014

Investing in Africa

Airport development across Africa is beginning to gather pace with governments and investors looking at opportunities to enhance existing infrastructure, writes Joe Bates.

Encouraging annual traffic rises, boosted by economic growth and an increase in tourism, is providing a stimulus for expanding and enhancing airports across Africa, according to a report.

It has a lot of catching up to do, of course, because despite being the world’s second-largest continent after Asia, with around one billion people, it remains the most underdeveloped with an aviation market that accounts for less than 3% of global passenger traffic.

The report – Airports in Africa: Capital Investment Programmes – 2014 – by Brooks Market Intelligence, recognises that the overall need to invest in new infrastructure is down to a host of historical factors such as a frequent change in leadership and decades of underfunding.

However, it states that times are changing and there is now room for “cautious optimism” as moves continue to liberalise the African market to encourage growth and international investment.

“There have been successful attempts by the more stable governments to upgrade facilities to bring them up to international safety standards and, in some instances, expand capacity, in the drive to boost trade and encourage growth in tourism to its many historic sites, varied landscapes, and extraordinary abundance of wildlife,” it states.

It says that this is particularly noticeable in sub-Saharan countries and notes that a major contribution is being made by China, which has become a major force of influence and is showing increasing activity in the construction of airport infrastructure, supported by favourable financial terms by the Chinese government. 

To really make progress though, the report claims that African governments need to do more by removing the “heavy burden of taxes, which puts local airlines at a competitive disadvantage, and instigate better connections within the continent through liberalisation.”

Courtesy of the report, Airport World below provides a snapshot of infrastructure development projects in North Africa.



Key projects include the construction of new terminals at both Algiers Houari Boumediene and Oran’s Es-Sénia Ahmed Ben Bella airports. 

Designed by UK architects Llewelyn Davies and Algerian company BREA, the new terminal at Algiers Houari Boumediene International Airport will raise the gateway’s capacity from 6 million to 10mppa when it opens in late 2014/early 2015. 

New taxiways, apron and access roads are also due to be added as part of the $330 million upgrade awarded to Terminal Ouest. 

The group is led by Prointec, the infrastructure and engineering subsidiary of Indra Sistemas. 

In a separate project, the Algerian government has approved the construction of a railway connection between Bab Ezzouar and Algiers Houari Boumediene. A 40,000sqm cargo village is also under construction at the gateway.

Algiers Houari Boumediene is operated by SGSIA – a public economic enterprise managed by Aéroports de Paris (ADP). The nation’s 17 other gateways are the responsibility of government agency Egis Avia.


Cairo Airport Company is the operator of Cairo International Airport, which until the end of January 2014 had been managed by global airport operator Fraport since 2005.

Cairo International Airport’s Terminal 2 is currently being refurbished and expanded by Turkish construction firm Limak Holding. The $387 million project – financed by the World Bank – started in January 2012 and is scheduled for completion in 2015, when the complex will be equipped to handle 8.5mppa.

It follows the construction of a third parallel 4,000 runway, 3.5mppa capacity Seasonal Terminal and an Automated People at the gateway.

An extended Metro Line linking Cairo Airport with Giza is expected to become fully operational by 2019. 

Fraport claims its nine-year management contract at Cairo International Airport was a great success. In February, 2014, Fraport’s chief financial officer, Dr Matthias Zieschang, said it had been “a win-win project for both Cairo and Fraport”.

Elsewhere in Egypt, Hurghada is set to get a new 91,500sqm terminal capable of handling 7.5mppa and a second 4,000m runway, the latter which will be built by local company Orascom Construction Industries (OCI). 

Plans are also on the table for a capacity doubling, $350 million third terminal at Sharm El Sheikh and terminal extensions at Abu Simbel, Marsa Matrouh and Taba.



The impact of 2011 uprising that led to the fall of the Ghadaffi regime continues to be felt in Libya today in terms of the uncertainty over whether a host of previously planned projects at a number of gateways will either commence or be completed.

Work on the $825 million upgrade of Benghazi Benina International Airport, for example, was interrupted by the uprising and has yet to resume. It included plans for a new Aéroports de Paris Ingénerie (ADPi) designed terminal, runway and apron. The airport now plans filling the void by opening a new “temporary” passenger terminal, being built by Korea’s Nemo Partners, this year.

Nemo Partners also began work on a new terminal at Misrata Airport in 2013 and there is positive news elsewhere as work has begun on a new $450 million terminal at Sebha.

The 3mppa capacity terminal at Sebha has also been designed by ADPi and the Libyan Civil Aviation Authority – responsible for the development, management and operation of the country’s 25 airports – says that work has also restarted on the $2.5 billion expansion of Tripoli International Airport.

The multi-faceted expansion project originally included plans for new ADPi designed 175,000sqm East and West terminals to be built by an international consortium comprising Brazil’s Odebrecht (50%), Athens-based Consolidated Contractors Company (25%) and Turkey’s TAV Construction (25%). 


A large number of projects have either recently been completed or are underway at the country’s smaller airports. 

They include terminal facelifts at Agadir and Dhakla; runway upgrades at Bengueric and Benslimane; new lounges, equipment and infrastructure at Al Hoceima, Laayoune and Oarzazate and Tangier; construction of a new 1,200sqm terminal at Errachidia; a new terminal building and take-off runway at Oujda; and a new terminal at Tan Tan. 

The projects come with a combined price tag of €320 million, of which €240 million will come from the African Development Bank (AfDB) through a loan arrangement.

Elsewhere, projects to expand the terminal building at Casablanca Mohammed V is close to completion. The gateway is also getting a new 30,000sqm cargo terminal capable of handling 150,000 tonnes of freight per annum and has unveiled plans for a new 50,000sqm Terminal 4 and a third runway.

Marrakech Ménara is looking to construct a new 50,000m2 Terminal 3, which will increase its annual capacity to 10mppa. 

The project, which will be financed through a loan from the African Development Bank (AfDB), will follow the planned expansion of Terminal 2 and soon-to-be completed work extension of T1.



A TAV Airports Holding-led consortium holds a 40-year concession to operate and develop Monastir Habib Bourguiba and Enfidha Hammamet airports, the latter which it built and opened in December 2009.

Tunisia’s Civil Aviation and Airports Authority, OACA, manages the country’s seven international airports of Tunis Carthage, Djerba-Zarzis, Tozeur Nefta, Sfax Thyna, Tabarka Ain Draham, Gafsa Ksar and Gabès Matmata.

• This article is based on the 2014 edition of Brooks Market Intelligence’s Airports in Africa Capital Investment Programmes – 2014 report, which summarises capital investment projects at more than 80 airports in 54 African countries. Copies of the report can be ordered athttp://www.brooksreports.com

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