Tanzania picks first female CEO to steer strategic airport

She is expected to shape the future of the country’s aviation industry

THURSDAY September 22, 2022

Tanzania’s Kilimanjaro International Airport gets first female CEO. PHOTO | DAILYNEWS

By Adam Ihucha

The Tranquility News Correspondent, Tanzania

In a historic move, Tanzania has picked a female business specialist, Ms Christine Mwakatobe, to serve as a new chief executive officer at the country’s high-profile airport of Kilimanjaro.

Ms Mwakatobe, who accepted the new posit this month, becomes the pioneer female to ascent to the helm of Kilimanjaro International Airport (KIA), the Tanzania’s second largest airport built in 1971.

“I’m thankful to God, President Samia Suluhu Hassan, the Minister for Works and Transport, Prof Makame Mbarawa, and the KADCO (Kilimanjaro Airport Development Company) Board for trusting me to navigate this key facility,” said Ms Mwakatobe.

She brings an impressive track record of developing business and delivering quality customer service at the airport, the critical soft skills package to transform the airfield into a real commercial hub.

“Christine is the right person at the right moment at KIA. Her communication skills are superb, easy to understand, collaborative, open-minded, approachable, transparent and has growth mindset, ethics and decisiveness,” said the Tanzania Association of Tour Operators (TATO) CEO, Mr Sirili Akko.

Mr Abdul Nasser Abdullah Al Yamani, the vice president of Business Development of Oman Airports, and Ms Christine Mwakatobe, the Kilimanjaro International Airport chief executive officer, display documents shortly after they signed a memorandum of understanding. PHOTO | COURTESY

She joined the government executive arm, entrusted to run both KIA and its parent firm, KADCO, in 2011, with a determination to shape the future of Tanzania’s aviation industry.

Indeed, she started working as a business development and corporate planning manager, with a hidden mission of turning the airport from a mere complex of runways and buildings for the take-off, landing, with facilities for passengers into a real commercial hub to leapfrog other businesses.

Ms Mwakatobe’s ability and her thorough efforts to spur business and generate sufficient revenue to relieve the government of footing the airport’s overhead costs led her way up, rising through the ranks to the interim CEO at KADCO in 2020.

Official data indicates that, under her leadership stint, airlines operating from KIA have grown to 15, up from 13 carriers. Cargo traffic also sprouted by leaps and bounds, as KIA had posted a 26 per cent upsurge in cargo volumes between 2019 and 2021.

In real figures, KIA handled a total of 4,426.3363 metric tonnes in 2021, up from 3,271.787 metric tonnes in 2019. “Growing an airport’s cargo traffic largely relies on the ability to provide sufficient and quality air capacity,” she explained.

A bird’s eye view of a section of Kilimanjaro International Airport in northern Tanzania. PHOTO | EMPIRE VOICE

The influential lady with diplomatic traits is expected to turn the airport into a fully-fledged commercial hub and state-of-the-art gateway, all-inclusive with the cutting-edge technologies, to enhance its capacity to handle aircrafts, passengers and cargoes.

KADCO has developed a comprehensive master plan that would see the 110-square-kilometre estates surrounding the airport transformed into a state-of-the art and modern duty-free shopping city.

Apart from the air terminal, the KIA area, strategically placed at the meeting point of three Northern Zone regions of Arusha, Kilimanjaro and Manyara, has for many years remained a wide stretch of unoccupied land as far as the eye can see, but this was bound to soon change.

According to the master plan, the location is to become a ‘city’ at the centre of Moshi and Arusha, where prospective investors are to establish massive shopping centres, high class tourist hotels, duty free ports, export processing zone, educational institutions, custom bonded warehouses, curio shops, golf courses and a large game ranchΩ

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