NDOLA, Zambia, Aug. 5 (Xinhua) -- Zambia on Thursday commissioned a new international airport financed by China, with President Edgar Lungu expressing gratitude to the Chinese side for financing the construction of the airport.
The Zambian leader said that the Simon Mwansa Kapwepwe International Airport, financed by the Exim Bank of China and designed and built by the AVIC International Holding Corporation, will be pivotal in facilitating the country's tourism and industrialization agenda as well as key in elevating the development agenda to another level. The project, he said, is a fulfillment of his government's agenda to transform the country through infrastructure development and reposition it as a major aviation hub in Africa.
"My government is fully committed to driving the country's development agenda and harnessing the country's economic potential. Today marks a key milestone in the transportation sector and the aviation sub-sector, in particular, as we continue on our journey to repositioning Zambia as a major aviation hub in Africa," he said during a ceremony for the commissioning of the airport.
According to him, apart from creating jobs during the construction stage, the airport will present various business opportunities for local businesses once it becomes fully operational.
Lei Yingqi, AVIC senior consultant, thanked the Zambian government for the support rendered to the company in the construction.
He said the company worked in partnership with various government agencies and fulfilled the government policy of having 20 percent sub-contracting to local contractors by engaging 60 local sub-contractors.
He further said local businesses benefited from the project through the supply of materials while about 2,700 people were employed during the construction period.
The skills which the local employees and subcontractors learned from the project will support them for their lifetime, he added.
According to him, the company has been able to do its work despite challenges faced such as the COVID-19 pandemic.
Construction of the airport started in 2017. Once fully operational, the airport will have a 3.5-kilometer runway, taxiways and apron, a terminal to handle over one million passengers per year, a cargo terminal as well as a commercial complex and hotel, among other amenities.