African logistics networks have received a major boost after Qatar Airways Cargo announced the creation of an air cargo hub in Rwandan capital Kigali.
The airline is partnering with RwandAir to offer twice-weekly flights from Doha to Kigali in Boeing 777 aircraft. Since March it has been offering an intra-Africa service between Kigali and Lagos three times per week and a weekly service from Istanbul via Doha to Kigali.
Qatar has said African shippers will benefit from reliable new transport links and cost synergies. It has said it will also offer consultancy services to help improve cargo handling at the airport.
More importantly, it is promising to announce new destinations from Kigali which will help boost trade in a landlocked country heavily dependent on road transport links and further afield in East Africa.
“The team is now working together on a future roadmap, including a proposed improvement plan for its warehouse infrastructure, which will form part of a long-term strategic plan for the cargo division of RwandAir,” said the airline.
Qatar Airways chief officer for cargo, Guillaume Halleux, said: “Africa is one of the world’s fastest growing economies, yet for it to develop to its full potential requires investment in logistics infrastructures.
“Our customers will benefit from both a reliable intra-African network through our Kigali hub, as well as enhanced service levels and cost synergies.”
Over the last ten years Rwanda has become an increasingly important source of fruit and vegetable exports as the country’s benevolent climate allows year-round production and export to markets such as the UK.
Farmers’ groups say exports of many key crops have grown by around 30% per year.
Key Rwandan exports include high value, low volume niche fruits and vegetables such as avocados, fine beans, snow peas, okra, passion fruit and several varieties of chilli.
Seun Rasheed, CEO of one of Rwanda’s largest food producers Souk Farms, said earlier this year that Rwanda’s food exports could soar by 600% by 2026 due to the large number of trees planted and supportive government policies for agriculture.
But currently most of Rwanda’s imports and exports must transit via road and ports in Kenya’s Mombasa and Dar es Salaam in Tanzania, increasing delays, logistical disruption and costs.
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