In line with Rwanda’s ambition to set itself as a regional logistics hub, the national carrier, RwandAir, and Qatar Airways, on May 3, launched a first-ever African cargo hub dubbed ‘Kigali Cargo Hub’ with an aim to boost trade on the continent. ALSO READ: RwandAir, Qatar Airways launch African cargo hub The landmarking event took place at the Kigali International Airport with the welcoming of Qatar Airways Cargo Boeing 77x freighter. The cargo plane has 100 tonnes capacity and will operate three times a week. Basically, Kigali will be central to various imports and exports point, be it from one African country to another or overseas market, where the cargo freighters will use the Kigali hub to connect to different economies. This comes as an addition to the first cargo, a 787-800 Boeing Converted Freighter (BCF), acquired in November 2022, and an A330 passenger aircraft whose belly is used for cargo. ALSO READ: First RwandAir cargo plane arrives Roger Nkubito, Country Manager of Africa Global Logistics, said this initiative is key in driving the creation of a common African market since there is no trade without logistics. “We now have cargo and the logistics capacity. The plane will collect cargo from wherever in the world to Doha and then to Kigali and from there, cargo goods will be dispatched to different countries in Africa, and vice-versa.” The partnership also saw Qatar Aviation Services (QAS) provide consultancy support to RwandAir Cargo to help improve its already highly successful cargo handling performance. ALSO READ: Why Qatar Airways is investing in RwandAir Yvonne Makolo, CEO of RwandAir, said this is a long-term strategic partnership that will open up new opportunities and markets across the continent for both airlines. “As a land-locked country, we recognise the importance of air freight in not only Rwanda’s economic growth but also across the continent.” It is estimated that this cargo hub will create a three to five per cent annual economic growth for the continent over the next decade. Bosco Gakwaya, RwandAir’s senior manager of cargo services, highlighted that this facilitates the national carrier’s penetration into African markets and access to a wider global network. In Africa, he mentioned Congo Brazzaville, Lusaka, Harare, Dar es Salam, Bangui, Entebbe, and Nairobi. Specifically to this partnership, the freighter will be operating in Lagos, Zanzibar, and other potential destinations currently under discussion. “The capacity is enough, however, this gives a new dimension to the market and motivates the private sector, and we will see a demand growth as far as volume is concerned,” Gakwaya explained.