Bosaso International Airport was officially opened on Friday after being modernised to international standards, paving the way for increased trade and investment in Somalia and in the horn of Africa.
The construction works which took a year and done by China Civil Engineering and Construction Company (CCECC), included renovation of runway, improvements for parking areas for both passenger and cargo planes, parking for cars.
Located in North-eastern Somalia on the Gulf of Aden coast, Bosaso is the third largest city in the country and it is the economic heart of autonomous state of Puntland with a major seaport.
Officials were upbeat that the refurbished Airport will revolutionalize passenger and cargo transportation in the country and the wider Horn of Africa.
For more than five years, Somalia topped the list of most corrupt countries in the world. Bosaso airport upgrade met the schedule and plans making one of the few megaprojects implemented in the country for decades.
Somalia President Hassan Sheikh Mohamoud who jetted in from Mogadishu to officially open the airport praised the completion of the project, which he said that it proves how the Somalis are aiming to achieve sustainable development goals.
“This upgrade will provide the next major momentum to promote growth in providing further employment, economic benefits to our country.”
Present at the ceremony, Italy ambassador to Somalia Michele Fabrezio said that he was pleased with the way the project was conducted throughout. The Italian government paid the funds for the reconstruction works of the airport.
Gateway to regional trade
Bosaso, unlike other cities, has an added advantage. It is connected to UAE, Oman, Saudi Arabia and Yemen through the Red Sea. The symbolic gesture of just hosting an international airport aside, the opportunities created by this development has the potential of transforming the whole of the Northern route economically, socially and by inference — politically.
In essence, it will now take a shorter time to trade in goods and services to and from the port city and the wider Northern and Central Somalia region, the Horn of Africa Community and the world.
By reducing the time to conduct business, profitability of investments is likely to increase while new business ventures are likely to sprout.
The business community in Bosaso is buoyant that the upgraded airport will open up the region and bring in more investment opportunities.
“This is the biggest milestone that will open up country’s untapped economic opportunities, and the efforts need to be praised as being worth doing. It will give multiplying effects on social and economic activities for common citizens,” said Puntland’s former Minister of Trade Abdisamad Yusuf Mohamed.
Since the collapse of the central government in 1991, Bosaso seaport became an important commercial point of entry, serving also as a refuelling station for maritime transport between the Red Sea and Persian Gulf.
The Port of Bosaso does not only serve its residents but also the main gateway for the other regions. Goods that are imported are transported to countries such as Ethiopia.
Puntland President Abdiweli Mohamed Ali recently announced that the expansion of the port will commence soon.
Attracting international airlines
The 2.6KM runway is a tremendous upgrade for Bosaso airport which operated with a dirt runway for over two decades. Planes with much bigger capacities will now fly directly to the port city.
The upgrade will allow international flights to land in and is designed to improve the passenger experience with new facilities and improved security screening and baggage areas.
Recently the flights were provided by small air charter firms with small crafts.
One local businessman said the take-off of the airport means a lot to the economy of the zone because ‘’ It will save us the time and resources expended in going to other destinations before one could travel abroad. I feel happy and I must say it is a welcome development.’’
Hopes are high; the airport will boost and help get the local economy out of its current slump by bolstering the port town as a regional business and trade center.