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How Zanzibar is determined to modernize its International airport

How Zanzibar is determined to modernize its International airport

BUSINESS analysts say airports with better services contribute highly to the economy growth of a country. It is behind this argument that has driven President Hussein Ali Mwinyi and his government to have airports improvement program among priorities for development.

If services at airports are convenient with limited or no bureaucracy and clearance delays, it is likely that most airlines and travelers, including tourists, will get attracted to use it, becoming an advantage to the country as the economy growth is boosted.

Shortly after starting his eight phase regime on 3rd November 2020, he embarked on key areas that could increase revenue required to build Zanzibar, and airports improvement program was later approved by strengthening corporate culture and PPP (Public Private Partnership).

After a few months of planning and arrangements, the Isles government, Zanzibar Airports Authority (ZAA) and SEGAP, a foreign firm entered into a10-year technical partnership on 24 November 2021, to manage and operate airports in Unguja and Pemba Islands.

 

SEGAP which develops airports by providing expertise in key areas of airport operations, aviation, and ancillary services while ensuring safety and quality of services is working along with consortium partners and Emirates Leisure Retail.

According to Mr Aris Hadjigeorgiou, the SEGAP Airport Manager, the consortium will act as a long-term partner to help position Zanzibar as a leading tourism destination, improve airport performance across all fields (including passenger experience, operation, profitability, etc) and enhance airport infrastructure and services.

He said that the consortium will act as one project team for Zanzibar Airports Authority, covering different airport management and operation aspects, saying “SEGAP roles include improving operational and financial performance, development of airport assets, increasing passengers and cargo traffic, airline route development, and best practice and compliance with international standards.”

Mr Hadjigeorgiou also points out that SEGAP has also seconded a number of key experts into the Abeiid Amani Karume International Airport (AAKIA)- including three permanent managers to work closely with the ZAA teams and facilitate organizational improvements and knowledge transfer.

Mr Rob Williams –Operational Readiness Manager says a key target for SEGAP over the first six months is to support ZAA with ‘Operational Readiness and Transfer (ORAT)’ services to expedite the remaining items for the new terminal building at AAKIA, which will ensure that all of the terminal facilities, systems, and personnel are ready to receive international flights currently in terminal two.

“We have been moving on well and hope to achieve the main goal of making Zanzibar airport ‘State-of-the-art’ in the East African region.  In addition to security assurance, the aim is to double the number of travelers (1.6 million according to 2019 statistics for both domestic and international) using the airport annually,” Williams said.

He said that many international airlines wishing to use the terminal III has been increasing as plans are underway to solve the current inconvenience (long queues) during immigration clearance, and “We hope that duty free shops and space for airlines offices will be ready by end of June this year.”

Mr Williams says that SEGAP is a 50/50 joint venture between airport infrastructure and operations specialists Egis, and private equity fund manager African Infrastructure Investment Managers (AIIM), and that already SEGAP invests in airport operations and management services to companies in Africa, AERIA (Ivory Coast), and AERCO (Congo).

He explained that Egis is an international group active in consulting construction engineering and mobility service sectors, creating and operating intelligent infrastructure and buildings capable of responding to the climate emergency and helping to achieve more balanced, sustainable and resilient world. Egis specializes in managing and operating small to medium sized airports with a network of 17 airports in seven countries across four continents.

AIIM, according to Williams, is the leading infrastructure private equity fund manager in Africa with 20 years track record extending through seven African infrastructure funds with more than 56 investments across 17 countries. AIIM has USD 2.1 billion in assets under management and is only wholly-owned subsidiary of Old Mutual Alternative Investments (OMAI).

He said that Dnata will provide a range of ground and passenger handling cargo and airport hospitality services to ZAA with emirates leisure retail and its partner MMI acting as concessionaire for all food, beverage, duty free and commercial outlets at terminal III.

 

Both experts (Williams and Hadjigeorgiou) said that terminal TWO is set for refurbishment later to meet the required international standard, as the Minister for Infrastructure, Communication and Transport, Dr Khalid Mohamed Salum says President Mwinyi wants to see modern services at all airports.

“All responsible institutions led by ZAA in collaboration with private sector, to be innovative and creative to make Zanzibar airports provide better services that will boost income,” Dr Salum said as Ms Salha Ali Omar, a business woman and frequent traveler to Pemba and Dubai says “We thank the government for the ongoing improvements of delivery of better services at the local airports.

On his part, the acting Director General of ZAA, Mr. Seif Abdallah Juma said “The development of airports has been going on well to meet the international standards. The start of the use of Passengers Boarding (and disembarking) Bridge (PBB) at the AAKIA is a milestone. The airport has also started using Automatic Aircraft parking which allows the pilot park the aircraft without the help of ground handling staff.”

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