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Qatar Eyes Major Shareholding in Rwandair, Bugesera Airport

President Paul Kagame has shed more light on the Rwanda-Qatar relations, saying both countries are working on possibility of the wealthy country investing in the national carrier, Rwandair and construction of Bugesera Airport,

“We have a good relationship, partnership with Qatar. And around that we are working on several things on the area of investment to serve Rwanda and Qatar,” said Kagame on Friday.

“One of them is a partnership around airport, around the airlines,” he added.

The president’s remarks come high on the heels of reports that Qatar Airways intends to obtain a major stake in Rwandair and Bugesera Airport.

In April, Qatar and Rwanda signed four bilateral agreements with aviation at the heart of the discussions.

The agreements were said to involve strategic cooperation between Rwanda’s Aviation Travel and Logistics (ATL)—the company managing RwandAir—and Qatar Airways.

ATL is also a 25% shareholder in the country’s new international hub airport at Bugasera.

The agreements came after a three day visit to Kigali by the Emir of Qatar, HH Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, as guests of Rwanda President Paul Kagame.

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The Emir was accompanied by a delegation of senior government officials and business executives from the nation including the group CEO of Qatar Airways Akbar Al Baker.

The new Bugasera airport was due to have opened this year but reports from the majority shareholder – Mota-Engil Africa – said the project had stalled due to a mandatory redesign to account for greater than expected growth from the Rwandan national carrier Rwandair. There were also calls for more funding. A revised opening date of 2020 is also now likely to be pushed back.

The agreement to bolster aviation investments and cooperation could see Qatar becoming a major investor in the project, and stimulating growth for the airline.

Kagame told a press briefing in Kigali on Friday that Rwanda and Qatar were also cooperating in other areas such as agriculture, hospitality and tourism.

“Our people have been working together to shape it – to see if we can expedite things; make investments to give us good returns and movement of people sorted,” said Kagame.

“It’s a healthy partnership we are continuing to develop.”

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