Cargo operations from Kenya’s Kisumu International Airport were formally launched on Saturday opening up new markets for farmers from the Western region.
Kenya Airways Chief Executive and Managing Director Allan Kilavuka said they have the capacity to transport 6 tonnes daily and 42 tonnes per week.
“The role KQ plays in this initiative is important as we are supporting trade efficiency by connecting the fresh produce industry from this region to the rest of the world,” Kilavuka said during the inaugural flight ferrying 16 tonnes of cargo destined for the United Kingdom.
This follows the expansion for cargo handling and cold storage facility with expectations the airport will be able to handle one million passengers annually up from the current 500, 000 according to the Kenya Airports Authority (KAA).
KAA says Kisumu Airport handles over 30 flights daily including scheduled, chartered and non-scheduled arrivals and departures.
“Local and international investors are attracted to Kisumu International Airport due to its multi-modal transportation capabilities and proximity to the Kisumu Port, the Inland Container Depot and the modern road network,” Mr Alex Gitari CEO KAA says.
“This new venture at Kisumu Intl Airport will serve as a major boost to the air cargo industry by increasing cargo traffic in the region and opening up business opportunities for investors and other stakeholders.”
Expressing happiness over the launch of cargo flight operations from the region, Prof. Anyang Ny’ongo, Kisumu County Governor said the development will energize boundless opportunities of horticultural, fisheries and meat products from the region by opening up new markets for farmers.
“The upgrade of Kisumu International Airport to include freight services and cold rooms, that has been long overdue, and the heightened conversation from the stakeholders will go a long way in influencing policymakers and implementers,” he added.
The initiative is a result of collaborations from the Kenya Airports Authority (KAA), Kenya Airways (KQ), Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Services (KEPHIS), Fresh Produce Consortium of Kenya (FPCK) and Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA).
“The development gives hope to farmers and fishermen in this area and signals a pragmatic approach to cooperation, grounded in the priorities of the Kenyan Government at the national and regional levels,” Kisumu Lakefront Development Corporation chairman Edward Ouko said.
The Cold Storage facility owned by a local investor will go a long way in enabling the airport to establish a full-fledged Cargo Division and Cold Chain Logistics.
Farmers are expected to venture into value addition and fish processing to tap into existing markets locally and internationally.
Among the commodities earmarked for export from the airport include avocados, fish, chillies, pepper, mangoes, pineapples, peanuts, traditional green vegetables, and organic beef.
“This is set to give us a global competitive advantage because of our unique regional position,” Ouko said.
Kisumu Lakefront Development Corporation is a special purpose vehicle tasked with exploiting the Blue Economy opportunities, enhancing tourism, trade and attracting investors for key developments at the lakefront.
Today history has been made in Kisumu. The first @KenyaAirways export cargo flight took off from Kisumu International Airport carrying fresh produce from the Lake Region. From Kisumu to the world! #GoFreshGlobal #OpeningOpportunities
— Kisumu Lakefront Development Corporation (@PortCityKisumu) January 8, 2022
The airport’s expansion is expected to be completed by April this year ahead of the 9th edition of the Afri-Cities Conference to be held in Kisumu from 17th-21st May 2022.
African Cities (AfriCities) is a pan-African conference held every three years since 1998 when the first meeting was held in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire. Convened by the United Cities and Local Governments of Africa’s (UCLG-A), headquartered in Rabat, Morocco.