Kisumu International Airport saw its first export cargo flight take off on Saturday 8 January, 2022 carrying fresh produce from Kenya’s lake region. The facilitation of export cargo flights was as a result of a public-private partnership between Kisumu Lakefront Development Corporation, Kenya Airports Authority (KAA), Kenya Airways, the Fresh Produce Consortium of Kenya and other key stakeholders.

The PPP has enabled KAA to embark on expansions and construction of air cargo facilities such as transit sheds, cold stores, specialised freight consolidation centres, warehousing for e-commerce and fumigation facilities for quality assurance of agro-perishable exports.

Commenting on the cargo launch, H.E. Prof. Anyang’ Nyong’o, Governor of Kisumu County, said: “The developments you see here today will energise boundless opportunities of horticultural, fisheries and meat products from the region by opening up new markets for farmers. The upgrade of Kisumu International Airport to include freight services and cold rooms is long overdue, and the heightened conversation from the stakeholders will go a long way in influencing policymakers and implementers.”

The establishment of a cargo village at Kisumu Airport will unite cargo airlines, freight forwarders, farmers, fish traders and airports to identify opportunities, generate new business and add additional frequencies into the market. Run by KAA, the cargo village will serve as a one-stop shop housing different stakeholders within the export customer journey.

Kenya’s Ministry of Transport, Infrastructure Housing, Urban Development and Public Works has also committed to 1.2 billion shillings for the upgrade of passenger capacity of Kisumu International Airport from the current 500,000 to around 1 million in time for the Africities Summit in May this year.

“This new venture at Kisumu International Airport will serve as a major boost to the air cargo industry by increasing cargo traffic in the region and opening up business opportunities for investors and other stakeholders between Kenya and the rest of the world,” said KAA CEO and Managing Director, Alex Gitari. “Being cognisant of the fact that air cargo is an integral component of the aviation industry, Kenya Airports Authority came up with the Air Cargo Strategy 2019-2022 whose goal is to improve its cargo handling capacity.”

Okisegere Ojepat, CEO of Fresh Produce Consortium of Kenya, added: “We are thrilled to see this collaboration and partnership that we have diligently pursued for months open opportunity for this region and the East Africa Community. The horticulture industry is committed to opening up more export opportunities for farmers and creating access into regional and global markets. With Kisumu International Airport now open for fresh produce exports, we as the industry intend to grow exports by between 12 and 20 per cent annually.

“Exporters from the region can now rely on rapid connectivity to consumer markets across Kenya Airways’ global network. Fresh produce items such as avocados, fish, chillies, pineapple, peanuts, bananas and traditional green vegetables will be the main commodities transported on the local carrier. While the cold storage facility is located in Kisumu, it is also expected to benefit farmers regionally with a focus on exports and supporting the local agricultural sector.

“We are delighted to cement our long-term partnership with all the stakeholders involved and look to enhance this initiative through growth and sustainability. The infrastructure development at key gateways such as Kisumu international Airport provides a great platform for economic development.”

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