Chinese fish plant to boost Kisumu International Airport’s status

[Photo: Courtesy]

Plans by the Kenya Airports Authority (KAA) to open cargo handling business at the Kisumu International Airport have received a shot in the arm, after a Chinese firm expressed interest in setting up a Sh1.2 billion fish processing plant near Lake Victoria.

The firm Weiye Luofei Ltd has inked a deal with the Kisumu County Government to set up a fish farming and processing factory with capacity to process 300 tonnes of Tilapia monthly.

The project targets the growing European and US export markets.

The company plans to make use of the facility to hasten the process of reaching world markets, building on the plans that had remained only on paper, even after KAA declared that it had put in place the necessary infrastructure for cargo shipping.

For the airport which has been underperforming despite its international status, the project will provide the impetus in cargo handling take-off.

KAA has been calling on investors in the counties in western Kenya to use the cargo handling facilities to transport their goods to world markets.

Airport Manager Joseph Okumu said the main infrastructure was in place and capable of handling large freight airlines. “We are working on the transit sheds and packing houses which were holding us back but, as it is, the facility is ready for use,” he said.

He said the completion of fuel depot and cargo aprons in 2015 elevated the status of the airport as pivotal transport facility in the Great Lakes region.

Local markets

The factory whose construction will begin early 2018 will lift Kenya’s fish exports and reduce the flooding of local markets with imports from China.

Governor Anyang’ Nyong’o’s investment adviser Victor Nyagaya said the roadmap had been laid and a location identified for the project that will create about 500 direct jobs upon opening, scaling gradually to over 1,000.

To sustain the project, there are plans to convert 100 acres of Lake Victoria at the Korando Peninsular into a fish farm where cages will managed by selected farmers to supply fish.

“The firm will invest heavily in fish farming on the lake to sustain its operation,” he said.

The company also plans to set up a fingerling breeding and feed manufacturing subsidiary to bolster commercial activities.

Governor Nyong’o is optimistic that the plant will promote the fishing sector and increase fishermen’s income.

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