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.”

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"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.