Kisumu Airport Expansion:project fuels reflection and big dreams

Driving along the Kisumu Busia highway is not always a rosy affair with its giant pot holes and rogue road users.Recently,another nuisance has been added to the scene:dust.There has been a beehive of activity.The China National Aero-Technology International Engineering Company is busy at work expanding the long neglected Kisumu Airport that is expected to become a major aviation hub as the economic dividends of East African integration translate into increased passenger numbers and trade.

Currently, the facility can only accommodate the Boeing 737s  but the expansion will ensure the larger 767s ,which are the most popular for  international travels are able to use the facility. The apron and taxiway will also undergo major refurbishment to fit into the requirements.Analysts say the airport has the potential to shore up Kenya's earnings from exports and foreign exchange to EU, Asia and American markets.
 What the new airport will look like

But as they say,you can't eat potential.Something must done.And Kisumu residents feel they should do that something in order to make full use of the airport."We must invest in something,maybe fish processing or horticulture,otherwise we will be reduced to plane-spotting;we will be watching people come and go instead of utilizing the facility to our benefit."

But what has Kisumu got to offer?Kisumu is not an agricultural hub but a net importer of almost all foodstuffs.The city does not host major multinationals or industrial complexes.The city is neither a financial hub nor an IT hub.But the residents are aware that they must convert their beautiful sleepy city into a some kind of "hub" if they are to fully harness the opportunities of the new look Kisumu Airport.
NGO City
The last two decades has seen a steep growth of non governmental organizations most of them dealing with health and community development but now there is a realization that business driven economic growth should be central to the sustainable and long term growth of the city.The NGOs have not been sustainable and they have not solved the city's social and economic problems.

Another possible sustainable avenue to growth is tourism.The region was expected to get some impetus from Obamamania but from what I saw,and with the poor roads to Obama's ancestral home,the pilgrimage to Kogelo has been a trickle and not the expected avalanche.The region's business community should invest in and market(the Magical Kenya campaign is doing a great job marketing the Western Kenya Tourism Circuit) viable tourist hotels and resorts that give visitors value instead of the halfhearted second rate hotels and resorts currently available.

The keyword is investment.Whoever invests in Kisumu's and Nyanza's fledgling agricultural ,property and tourism sectors at this time will reap great dividends when the region's fortune change for the better.From the look of things,that future is not that far off.And the residents of Kisumu will find greater financial value and profitable ventures from their airport rather than plane-spotting.