(eTN) – There is a huge structure going up near the control tower at the Livingstone Airport in Zambia. This is a new concourse and international departures terminal. It is the first of three phases of development at Livingstone, which will be followed by Phase 2 – a new arrivals terminal complex for international passengers, a drop-off zone, and walkways. The 3rd phase will be for new ground-handling equipment and self check-in kiosks. Phase 1 is expected to be complete by April 2012.
In the meantime, Lusaka Airport is also being upgraded, as well as Mfuwe and Ndola.
About 10 years ago, one of the business/manufacturing experts said at a meeting that Lusaka and Zambia should become the center of trade for South/Central Africa. He said that it was ideally positioned to become the hub of trade for the region. It would appear that Leigh Fisher, the American consultants for the National Airports upgrade, have come to the same conclusion; their fee being US$750,000. They foresee Lusaka as a major business and cargo port and, if this happens, Lusaka Airport could become an “airport city” – a development which is seen at other major airports around the world.
For my tuppence worth, at the present time, Zambia is seen as the most expensive destination in the region. It is, therefore, unlikely that it could become any sort of hub. If one could rationalize some of the business ways by reducing the number of obstacles and costs of doing business in Zambia, then it would be possible. And it is not only the cost and obstacles to doing business, it is things like arriving at the airport in a vehicle, having to stop while a man with a mirror on a trolley rolls the mirror under the car to check that there is nothing hidden underneath.
Livingstone should become a regional tourist hub. Most of its tourists have to fly first to Johannesburg and then fly back to Livingstone. It takes 1 hour and 45 minutes to fly between the 2 places. In these days when air travel is so expensive, it would make sense that flights from Europe stopped in Livingstone (or Vic Falls Airport) and then continued on to Johannesburg. This will only happen if government is pro-active and works with private business to promote it.