Rwandan President Paul Kagame has broken ground to begin construction on the new $818m Bugesera International Airport (BIA) in Rwanda's Eastern Province.

The new airport is being built to handle the rising air traffic in the country, as well as bolster intra-African travel, investment and business.

Kagame said: “Bugesera Airport is an important part of Rwanda's strategy for socio-economic transformation.

“Rwandans to whom we are accountable are used to having high expectations and trust us to deliver. This will be no different.”

"Bugesera Airport is an important part of Rwanda's strategy for socio-economic transformation."

Slated for completion by December 2018, the first phase of the construction will cost $418m and increase the airport's annual passenger handling capacity to 1.8 million.

During the second phase, which is valued at $400m, a wide range of extension works will be carried out at the airport, reported KTPress.

In September 2016, the Government of Rwanda concluded negotiations for a public private partnership transaction with Mota-Engil Africa and Aviation Travel & Logistics for the Bugesera Airport development.

The partners plan to construct, own, and operate the airport under a concession agreement for a period of 25 years.

At the end of the concession, Bugesera Airport is expected to accommodate a minimum of six million passengers annually.

Said to be in line with Rwanda’s economic blueprint, Vision 2020, the airport project will have an impact on national socio-economic transformation efforts, and is set to position Rwanda as a regional hub.