Jomo Kenyatta International Airport. Photo/courtesy.

The Kenyan government has announced a significant refurbish of Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) aimed at elevating the airport to global standards.

This decision was reached during a Cabinet meeting chaired by President William Ruto at State House, Nairobi.

The Cabinet approved a comprehensive Medium Term Investment Plan for JKIA, which includes refurbishing the passenger terminal, runway, taxiway, apron, and airside facilities. This initiative is part of the broader National Aviation Policy designed to enhance the capacity and efficiency of Kenya’s primary international gateway.

According to the Cabinet dispatch, these upgrades are crucial to meet the projected demand of 42.1 million passengers annually by 2050. The improvements will support the tourism and aviation sectors, which are vital components of Kenya’s economy.

The Cabinet emphasized the importance of strengthening the link between tourism and aviation to bolster Nairobi’s position as a key aviation hub. The National Aviation Policy aims to maximize the aviation sector’s contribution to Kenya’s economic growth by enhancing both national and international connectivity.

The upgrades are expected to significantly expand Kenya’s tourism base and open up the country’s borders to more investors. This aligns with recent policy changes, such as the introduction of Visa-Free entry under the Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA) framework, which have been instrumental in making Kenya more accessible to international visitors.

The improvements at JKIA are also timely, as the airport has faced several infrastructure challenges recently. Issues like leaking roofs, flooded runways, and frequent blackouts have drawn negative attention from the international community.

During recent floods, services at the airport were often disrupted, with flights delayed or diverted, underscoring the urgent need for the planned upgrades.

Kenya is set to host several major international events, which will benefit from the enhanced airport facilities. These include the BlueInvest Forum in July 2024 and the World Congress of the International Union of Forest Research Organisation in August.

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Upgrading JKIA will ensure that the airport can efficiently handle the influx of international visitors for these events.

“Cabinet considered and approved the JKIA Medium Term Investment Plan that includes the upgrade of the passenger terminal, runway, taxiway, apron, and airside facilities in keeping with global aviation trends,” read the Cabinet dispatch.

“Cabinet noted that the aviation ecosystem in Kenya is robust, but pointed out that it was imperative to enhance the capacity of Kenya’s international airports to meet existing and projected demand which is estimated to rise to 42.1 million passengers a year by 2050,” the dispatch reads.

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This strategic investment in JKIA is a crucial step towards modernizing Kenya’s aviation infrastructure and ensuring that it meets the demands of the future while maintaining high standards of safety and efficiency.

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