The Malawi government is seeking investors to partner it in a $1-billion project to upgrade the Southern African country’s oldest airfield, Chileka International Airport, to modern standards.
The Malawi Investment Promotion Agency (MIPA), which has put the project out to tender, says government is looking to concession the airport to a private-sector partner for a period of time in a build, operate and transfer deal.
“The . . . project will include the construction of a new terminal building and the rehabilitation and widening of the runway,” says MIPA GM James Kaphwereza Banda.
Banda says the MIPA also tabled the project to prospective investors through the Commonwealth Business Forum, in London and Blantyre, last year.
“Some inquiries were made, but you will understand that this project is quite big and is long term in nature, hence, any would-be investor needs time before coming forth . . . but we are waiting for feedback from some investors that have shown interest,” he says.
Ministry of Transport and Public Works principal secretary Mac Phail Magwira comments that the Chileka modernisation and privatisation project is part of a broader initiative to commercialise and privatise all the major airports in Malawi, including Lilongwe’s Kamuzu International Airport (KIA), the country's biggest.
Magwira says the rehabilitation and modernisation of the airports will be done in phases in order to avoid total closure of the facilities.
He says the Malawi government, with the support of its cooperating partners, is ready to fund aspects of the Chileka and the KIA projects in order to improve the conditions of the airports and attract private-sector interest.
Two months ago, President Bingu wa Mutharika revealed that there were three companies bidding to invest in, and run, the KIA.
The President, however, refused to identify the companies, saying it was premature to do so.
The Malawi government has already set aside $18-million to redevelop KIA to the standard that can attract private investors.
Magwira says the project is expected to start in May and will involve the reconstruction of the runway and the aprons, and other assorted works.
“Government will be rehabilitating the airports while the MIPA continues scouting for investors that will take over the running of these facilities,” says Magwira.
Meanwhile, the Malawi government says that it has finalised plans for the construction of a new airport, to be called Namiyasi Airport, in the southern lakeshore tourism district of Mangochi.