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

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants 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.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs