How Masalato International Airport will change Tanzania’s air transport


Project Timelines

  • Aug-2011: Tanzania Airports Authority announced the completion of a feasibility and design study for Msalato Airport. The study was supported by the Arab Bank for Africa Development (BADEA).
  • Following the feasibility study, the Tanzanian Government entered discussions with development partners and financial institutions, including BADEA and the African Development Bank (AfDB) to source up to USD105 million to fund the project.
  • Jan-2017: Tanzania announced that the Government will construct a fifth international airport in Dodoma, in the Msalato area about 14km from Dodoma city center
  • Nov-2019: Tanzania’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and East African Cooperation reported African Development Bank approved a USD275 million loan to the New Dodoma Airport.
  • Oct-2020: The Ministry of Transport and Public Works reported that the construction of the New Dodoma Msalato International Airport would begin after the 2020/21 Financial Year.
  • Sep-2021: Tanzania’s Government signed a contract on 13-Sep-2021 for the construction of New Dodoma Msalato International Airport with a JV comprising Sinohydro, Beijing Sino-Aero Construction Engineering Company, and China Jiangxi Corporation for International Economic and Technical Cooperation.

A continental perspective on Tanzania’s infrastructure released in 2013 by the World Bank Group complements the East African country as having ‘one of the most competitive domestic air transport sectors in Africa.’

From the pre-independence era, when the country was known as Tanganyika, to the early ’90s when present-day Tanzania underwent major economic reforms, the air transport sector has morphed into a key driver of the country’s GDP.

In the early 2000s, World Bank projected that “if the country’s infrastructure endowment were improved to the level of the African leader, Mauritius, annual per capita growth rates could increase by 3.4 percent”. As of  November 2021, Tanzania’s per capita income was reported at 1,110.37 USD compared to 410.59 USD in 2000.

Whereas the improvement in the country’s GDP is attributed to the mining and agricultural sectors, the transport sector contributed a 7.6 percent share of services in the Gross Domestic Product of Tanzania in the first quarter of 2021. The improvement points to a bigger role that Tanzania is poised to play in the regional aviation market currently dominated by Ethiopia, Kenya, and Rwanda.

In 2016, Tanzania embarked on a mission to revamp its national carrier which included purchasing new aircraft to establish a long-haul capacity for intercontinental flights.

Graphical presentation of Msalato Airport

At the time, Tanzania had only four international airports namely; the Julius Nyerere International Airport(JNIA) located to the southwest of Dar es saalam, Kilimanjaro International Airport (KIA) in Hai District of Kilimanjaro region, serving the cities of Arusha and Moshi,  Zanzibar International Airport (ZIA) also known as Abeid Amani Karume International Airport located in Ungunja Island-Zanzibar, and Mwanza International Airport (MWZ), a regional airport in northern Tanzania serving the city of Mwanza.

Towards 2020, the government of Tanzania made clear its intentions to build a new international airport to serve its new Dodoma Capital. The new airport would be built in the district of Msalato, some twelve kilometers from the capital city, and would be known as Msalato International Airport.

Dodoma Municipality, only elevated to city status in 2018, was designated as the capital city of Tanzania by the country’s founding President Julius Nyerere in 1973 due to its strategic advantage. However, until 2019, most government offices were located in the coastal city of Dar-es-salaam despite the Nyerere declaration. President Magufuli would later see the entire government relocate to the country’s new capital of Dodoma by the end of 2019.

The same year, 2019, the Africa Development Bank (AfDB) approved a USD 272.12 million loans to Tanzania for the construction of Msalato International  Airport.

Of the total loan amount, AfDB will provide $198.6m while African Development Fund (ADF) will contribute $23.52m.

In addition, $50m will be raised in co-financing with the Africa Growing Together Fund (AGTF).

It is expected that the facility will unlock and distribute economic growth in Tanzania due to improved air transport connectivity both internally and internationally.  For Dodoma, Msalato International Airport will improve access, regional and international connectivity, to the administrative Capital city and the Central Region of the country.

When fully operational, the new facility will handle at least 50,000 aircraft and over one million passengers every year.

Project Background

The Msalato International Airport project is part of Tanzania’s Five Year Development Plan outlined in the Tanzania Development Vision (TDV) 2025.

As an intervention for the sustainability of government services in the new Capital, the airport will enhance transport connectivity to Dodoma and release gains from the economic integration of the country with its regional neighbors and the rest of the world, to the people of Tanzania.

The project involves the construction of a new international airport with a passenger terminal, runway, air navigational aids, and related operational services – such as a fuel distribution agency, water supply systems, electrical distribution stations, and fire-fighting equipment.

Components and Design

According to AfDB, the design of the airport incorporates sustainable design strategies such as the use of existing roads and garden features within the terminal that contributes to better drainage.

The principal runway will be paved to a bitumen surface along its entire length. To ensure compliance with aviation safety standards, the taxiway and runway will be fitted with ground lights and pavement markings.

Hard surfaced areas known as aprons will be made on the airfield to provide for safe parking lots for aircraft when loading, fueling or when passengers board or disembark from the planes. A total of 34 aprons fitted with fuel hydrant pits and fuel distribution lines will be constructed at the airport.

On the south side of the terminal passenger will be the Air Traffic Control Tower. The Control Tower will supervise, direct and monitor the arrival and departure of planes around the airport and its immediate airspace. Other than the tower, a meteorological station to provide real and near-real-time weather information will be installed at the airport.

To the west side of the terminal zone, will be constructed a cargo terminal building. The cargo terminal is intended to achieve a logical flow of goods from both the airside and landside, with an efficient circulation and processing of vehicles at the landside. The cargo is divided into two sections; Import and Export zones separated by an office block. A warehouse and offices will be located in a separate building.

The Head of State and visiting dignitaries will be allocated a presidential pavilion at the airport. The pavilion will have a special path leading to a sublime entrance. On the landside, a parking area is provided for VIP visitors and their staff vehicles. While on the airside, a wide apron also accessible from the VIP special path dedicated to the President, has been planned.


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