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DRC Gears Up For Ndjili Airport Modernisation


The government of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) looks to be gearing up to begin the modernisation and rehabilitation of Ndjili International airport in Kinshasa.
A high-level meeting chaired by Deputy Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo was held in early February to discuss essential options for the project. Present at the meeting were transport minister Marc Ekila, the CEO of the civil aviation authority (RVA) Leonard Ngoma Mbaki and representatives of the Turkish construction firm Milvest.
Le vice-Premier ministre, ministre de la Défense nationale, Jean-Pierre BEMBA GOMBO, a présidé lundi, en son cabinet de travail, une réunion de haut niveau, consacrée aux options essentielles à lever quant à la modernisation et rénovation de l’aéroport international de N’djili.… pic.twitter.com/NkIzNFfVVb
— Vice-Primature, Ministère de La Défense/RDC (@VPMDefenseRdc) February 7, 2024

Previously, in late January, the state-owned Agence Congolaise de Presse (ACP) reported that President Felix Tshisekedi would perform a groundbreaking ceremony for the project “within days”. Citing Ekila, the report said that project preparations had reached 95% completion.
While there has been no subsequent news regarding a groundbreaking ceremony having been held, the project is clearly moving forward.
According to South Africa’s Djamba Designs Architecture, which prepared the project concept, the upgraded airport will be able to handle 30 million passengers a year and will include lounges, food courts, retail outlets, office space, a convention centre, an underground railway link as well as a monorail station. Canada’s Cima+ drew up the masterplan. 
According to the 24 January ACP report, Milvest, a subsidiary of Miller Holding, will invest US$1.2 billion in the project, which is expected to take two years to complete.
Milvest built the new Kinshasa congress and financial centre, which was inaugurated in December.

The modernisation of the airport has been in the making for years, with former president Joseph Kabila performing a groundbreaking ceremony for a new terminal in 2018. China’s Weihai International Economic & Technical Cooperative Company (WIETC) was contracted to carry out the scheme at a cost of US$364.9 million over 36 months. The terminal was planned to cover an area of 40,000 square metres, four times the size of the current terminal. The project also involved building additional runways and a new parking lot. Work subsequently stalled.
The rail link to Ndjili airport forms part of a wider project being supported by the Africa Finance Corporation (AFC). 
In February 2023, the AFC announced it had signed a joint development agreement with Trans Connexion Congo (TCC) to build a mass transit system comprising 300km of railway in Kinshasa. 
Called the Kinshasa Urban Train project (MetroKin), the project will be executed in four phases, with the first involving the rehabilitation of the 25km line from the central station of Kinshasa to Ndjili airport. 
The 75km second phase will run along Kinshasa city’s main arteries, including 13th Street, Echangeur, Avenue Kikwit, Avenue de la Liberation, Ngaba, Makala and Ngiri-Ngiri. The 90km third phase will span the arteries of Kintambo, Mimosa-Kinsuka, Upn, Cite Verte-Kimzenwa-Matete. The 80km final phase will connect the Ndjili airport to Maluku. 
Kinshasa Urban Train project (MetroKin)Source: MetroKinThe scope of work includes the construction of a bridge on 12th street, an interchange on Place Andre Motors, a standard gauge double track, automatic light rail signalling, six pedestrian bridges, six small stations and two large multimodal stations, and a maintenance depot in Tshenke.
According to technical feasibility studies carried out by Italy’s Italferr and financial studies by UK-based Deloitte, the overall cost of the first phase is estimated at US$550 million. 
In addition to the AFC, which has pledged to provide a total of US$325 million, other financing partners include the French Development Agency and the Trade & Development Bank of Eastern and Southern Africa with US$100 million each, and Africa50 with US$25 million. Financial close was slated for November 2023. 
The scheme is being implemented by MetroKin, which was established in January 2022.
MetroKin is made up of three main shareholders: TCC, the company promoting the project and responsible for carrying out the technical and financial studies and mobilising financing; the National Transport Office (ONATRA), the major shareholder who is responsible for validating studies; and the provincial government of Kinshasa, which is the delegating authority.
Top photo: Ndjili airport (Source: Cima+)


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