THE Zambia Airports Corporation Limited is developing the new $397 million Copperbelt International Airport in Ndola on the Copperbelt, the country’s major mining region.
The development is in line with the government’s revised sixth national development plan in which airports are being upgraded or constructed throughout the country. It has been designed to handle 1 million passengers, 8 000 tons of cargo and 20 000 aircraft take-offs and landings a year.
Zambia Airports has selected a site on which the airport will be built, about 13km west of the city of Ndola. It will service the mining regions of the Copperbelt and Katanga in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Over the years, the Copperbelt has attracted large-scale investments in various sectors, including the agro-based Global Industries that is building a $40m multi-oil-seed-crushing plant and the Chinese-led Chambishi Multi-Facility Economic Zone, which is connected to Zambia’s cobalt and copper mining.
It is anticipated that the economic zone will boost exports from the Copperbelt and this will require effective and efficient air transport.
In particular, the development of airport infrastructure is cardinal to economic growth because of its direct impact on improved business efficiency and access to tourist attractions.
Tourist attractions on the Copperbelt include Chimfunshi Chimpanzee Orphanage in Chingola as well as the Dag Hammarskjöld crash site and Nsobe Game Reserve in Ndola.
Zambia Airports has contracted China’s AVIC International Holding Corporation Limited to design and construct Copperbelt International Airport.
It is expected to be completed in three years’ time.
About 1 000 people will be employed directly and indirectly during the construction stage.
The construction works include the following:
• A 1 million-capacity international terminal building with three aero bridges.
• A 50-room hotel.
• A business complex.
• An apron, taxiway and runway.
• Rescue and fire station.
• Water reticulation and power systems.
• Parks, landside and airside driveways.
• A 28m air traffic control tower.
• An air cargo terminal.
• An aircraft maintenance hangar.
• An airport fuel farm.
The proposed land earmarked for the construction of the airport will have access roads to Kitwe, Luanshya and Mufulira, three other Copperbelt towns.
The contractor is scheduled to begin mobilisation, site clearing and earthworks.
Copperbelt International Airport is being developed because Simon Mwansa Kapwepwe International Airport, located in Ndola, has no space for extending runways. It has been one of the fastest-growing international airports in Zambia.
The others are Lusaka’s Kenneth Kaunda International Airport, Livingstone’s Harry Mwanga Nkumbula, and Mfuwe International Airport in Mambwe.
In 2006, Simon Mwansa Kapwepwe International Airport handled 77 137 general passengers. Last year, passenger numbers had risen to 255 223, indicating a healthy average annual growth of about 15 percent. This is impressive considering regional growth was pegged between 4 and 5 percent. Below is the graph showing trends at Simon Mwansa Kapwepwe International Airport.
During the mining boom on the Copperbelt, the airport handled volumes of spares destined for the mines. The cargo movement has however declined.
With trends clearly showing a healthy growth at Simon Mwansa Kapwepwe International Airport, the completion of the new facility is expected to boost growth in economic activities. Expected positive outcomes include:
• Employment creation during construction through a multiplier effect.
• Improved safety and security of the new airport and therefore increased opportunities from airlines.
• Increased commercial activities around the airport through the introduction of business in the aviation sector.
• Increased passenger and cargo movement.
• Increased aircraft movements.
• Creation of non-aviation commercial activities around the airport.
• Improved customer infrastructure facilitation.