News / Africa

Swaziland Unveils New International Airport

King of Swaziland Mswati III (left) and one of his 13 wives disembark from a plane after arriving at Katunayake International airport in Colombo, Sri Lanka, August 13, 2012. (Reuters)
King of Swaziland Mswati III (left) and one of his 13 wives disembark from a plane after arriving at Katunayake International airport in Colombo, Sri Lanka, August 13, 2012. (Reuters)
Peter Clottey
Swaziland has officially opened the newl King Mswati III International Airport. The newly constructed airport cost about $150 million and fulfills part of the country’s Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), says Percy Simelane, spokesman for the government.

The airport is also a component of King Mswati III's $1 billion millennium investment initiative which is aimed at boosting the country’s position as a tourist destination and serving as a gateway to Swaziland’s game parks.

The airport construction took longer than was expected but the government spokesman says, “It’s complete now, and we are happy that finally we have a modern airport. It comes after another huge water project called the Lower Usuthu Irrigation Project, which is benefiting thousands of people downstream.”

How will a new airport help the poor?

Opposition groups call the new airport the king’s “white elephant” pet project and argue its completion is unlikely to improve the lives of the poor citizens.

Critics also charge that the expense of airport construction was not a judicious use of scarce public resources for a government that always complains it is unable to increase public sector worker salaries. The government's detractors also argue that the funds could have been better used to improve hospitals and schools around the country.

Simelane disagrees, saying the airport will create jobs for Swazis. He says the government is encouraging public-private-partnerships to develop lands around the new airport to create jobs. "Already, people have been given free land to develop projects around the airport,” says Simelane.

Facing South Africa competition

A feasability study persuaded the government the bigger airport was necessary “particularly because we had a very small airport at Matsapha airport near Manzini, which did not have the range to take bigger aircraft,” says Simelane.

“That meant our cargo from all over the world was dropped in South Africa and we had to fetch it in trucks or the railway,” the government spokesman says.

The new airport will boost Swaziland tourism because the old airport in Matsapha could receive only regional aircraft. Tourists used to have to land in South Africa and take a bus or a train to get to Swaziland. 

“We are not looking forward to a situation whereby we continue to go to South Africa by road or our tourists have to travel by road to [come] here.”

The airport will enable Swaziland to fairly compete with neighboring South Africa to attract international business investors, too, says Simelane. “We are going to compete with them as we have in sugar."

"We know how to market this airport, and it is going to be beneficial to us,” says Simelane.


 
Clottey interview with Percy Simelane, Swaziland government spokesman
Clottey interview with Percy Simelane, Swaziland government spokesmani
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X

You May Like

Jihadist Assassin says Goal of Tunisia Murders Was Chaos

Abu Muqatil at-Tunusi’s remarks in a propaganda interview also cast light on attack on Bardo Museum More

Russia Denies License to Tatar-Language TV Station in Crimea

OSCE official says denial shows 'politically selective censorship of free and independent voices in Crimea is continuing' More

Kenyan Startups Tackle Expensive Remittances Through Bitcoin

Some think services could give Western Union a run for its money, though others say it’s still got a long way to go More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Julie Beall
March 25, 2014 10:28 AM
Swaziland has made great progress in the last several years. They have a lot to be proud of, but there is still much to do. In the bush (rural areas) the poor are struggling. Especially with HIV. There are many orphans because of this deadly virus. We see this airport as a way to get more supplies needed to save many. We have been trying to build a medical clinic in the bush for many years and are getting closer to completion. We still need help with this project. Every time we visit and volunteer our services we have to go through South Africa and travel across the border bringing only small amounts of clothing and non prescriptions medications. We are hopeful this will be very beneficial to this wonderfully small peaceful country.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
For Obama, It's More Business Than Friendships With World Leadersi
X
Aru Pande
April 01, 2015 9:09 PM
The rift between President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has put a spotlight on the importance of the American leader’s personal relationships with other world leaders and what role such friendships play in foreign policy. VOA's Aru Pande reports.
Video

Video For Obama, It's More Business Than Friendships With World Leaders

The rift between President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has put a spotlight on the importance of the American leader’s personal relationships with other world leaders and what role such friendships play in foreign policy. VOA's Aru Pande reports.
Video

Video Buhari: Nigeria Has ‘Embraced Democracy’

Nigeria woke up to a new president-elect Wednesday, Muhammadu Buhari. But people say democracy is the real winner as the country embarks on its first peaceful handover of power since the end of military rule in 1999. VOA’s Anne Look reports from Abuja.
Video

Video Tiny Camera Sees Inside Blood Vessels

Ahead of any surgical procedure, doctors try to learn as much as possible about the state of the organs they plan to operate on. A new camera developed in the Netherlands can now make that easier - giving surgeons an incredibly detailed look inside blood vessels, all the way to the patient’s heart. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Latin American Groups Seek Fans at Texas Music Festival

Latin American music groups played all over Austin, Texas, during the recent South by Southwest festival, and some made fans out of locals as well as people from around the world who had come to hear music. Such exposure can boost such groups' image back home. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Stockton Community, Police, Work to Improve Relations

Relations are tense between minority communities and police departments around the United States following police shootings that have generated widely-publicized protests. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Stockton, California, where police and community groups are working toward solutions, with backing from Washington.
Video

Video Indiana Controversy Highlights Divergent Meanings of Religious Freedom

Indiana’s state government has triggered a nationwide controversy by approving a law that critics say is aimed at allowing discrimination against gays and lesbians. The controversy stems from divergent notions of religious freedom in America. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Report: State of Black America a 'Tale of Two Nations'

The National Urban League has described this year's "State of Black America" report as a "tale of two nations." The group's annual report, released earlier this month (March), found that under an equality index African Americans had only 72% parity compared to whites in areas such as education, economics, health, social justice and civic engagement. It’s a gap that educators and students at Brooklyn’s Medgar Evers College are looking to close. VOA's Daniela Schrier reports from the school.
Video

Video Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadists

At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials Underway in West Africa

Ebola has claimed the lives of more than 10,000 people in West Africa. Since last summer, researchers have rushed to get anti-Ebola vaccines into clinical trials. While it's too early to say that any of the potential vaccines work, some scientists say they are seeing strong results from some of the studies. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry in the Philippines. Close to five million foreign visitors traveled there last year, perhaps lured by the country’s tropical beaches. But Jason Strother reports from Manila that the country hopes to entice more travelers to stay indoors and spend money inside new casinos.
Video

Video Civilian Casualties Push Men to Join Rebels in Ukraine

The continued fighting in eastern Ukraine and the shelling of civilian neighborhoods seem to be pushing more men to join the separatist fighters. Many of the new recruits are residents of Ukraine made bitter by new grievances, as well as old. VOA's Patrick Wells reports.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.

VOA Blogs

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More