WASHINGTON, September 29, 2023 — Rodrigues Island, one of the islands that make up Mauritius, will get a major boost to its economy with the approval of a $184 million loan from the World Bank and a €16 million grant from the European Union to improve access to air transport and safety. This has the potential to boost tourism, enhance the island’s climate resilience, and improve its economic prospects.
The funding will be utilized primarily for the construction of a 2,100 km long runway, a taxiway, three new aircraft parking lots, a perimeter road, a service road, fencing, gate posts, access roads, car parks, landscaping, and new power and water supply systems, as well as safety features complying with international standards. In addition, the project will support Mauritius in achieving green airport certification, making its aviation sector more competitive and aligned with global market trends, potentially transforming Mauritius and Rodrigues’ economies.
“I’m pleased to see that the project has reached such a milestone. Rodrigues’ economy stands to benefit immensely from this landmark investment,” noted Wendy Hughes, Regional Director for Infrastructure for Eastern and Southern Africa. “Besides creating new jobs in the aviation and hospitality industries, this project will assist local governments and communities in managing their water resources and in enhancing the island’s agri-food systems with women’s participation in mind.”
Project investments will include improving the island’s food security and supporting its sustainable and integrated development. Technical assistance and capacity building will target local authorities in areas such as extension services, fisheries management, post-harvest efficiency, food safety, and climate-smart technologies. Additionally, the project will seek to foster farmers and Micro, Small, and Medium-sized Enterprises, as well as assess related value chains improvements, identify potential new markets, and explore the potential for the implementation of climate-friendly cold chains.
“We believe that growth in the tourism sector must be balanced with environmental and social preservation efforts,” added Idah Z. Pswarayi-Riddihough, World Bank Country Director for Comoros, Madagascar, Mauritius, Mozambique, and Seychelles. “This green airport project is in line with the authorities’ plans aimed at accompanying the projected increase in room capacity with the need to preserving Rodrigues' unique ecological and cultural assets.”
Consequently, the new investments will be environmentally sound, and selected existing buildings will be retrofitted to comply with environmental standards. Additionally, Rodrigues will implement a green-certification program, which could also have a branding impact over time.
To address water shortages on the island, which can be further constrained as a result of the expected arrival of tourists, the project will strengthen protection of water infrastructure, invest in existing desalination plants, assess the potential for groundwater exploration, identify and design new water reservoirs, and develop sanitation improvement plans for safe wastewater treatment and disposal. Additionally, the project will support Rodrigues’s public utility company to improve its financial sustainability as well as assist in the development of regulation and technical standards for desalination plants.
The project is aligned with Mauritius’ 2022 Tourism Development Plan and will be executed by Airport of Mauritius Ltd. with a dedicated implementation unit based on Rodrigues Island.