Cape Town. 180328. Cape Town International Airport. Picture Henk Kruger/ANA/African News Agency
CAPE TOWN - Cape Town was fast becoming the gateway to Africa with the introduction this week of a direct route by RwandAir, flying between Kigali, Rawanda and Zimbabwe and the Mother City, according to Tim Harris, the chief executive of Wesgro, Cape Town and the Western Cape's tourism, trade and investment agency.

"We welcome the introduction of the direct route from Kigali via Harare to Cape Town, not only does this facilitate improved business and tourism between the two capitals, but further positions the Cape as a gateway to Africa," said Harris.

He said that there were also numerous possibilities for business tourism in Zimbabwe.
"The total number of passengers recorded between Cape Town and Zimbabwe last year amounted to around 75 000, and we look forward to seeing this number grow through the facilitation of a new direct route," said Harris.

Cape Town Air Access, a partnership between Wesgro, the Western Cape government, the City of Cape Town, Airports Company South Africa, South African Tourism, and Cape Town Tourism, officially welcomed the touchdown of RwandAir's direct flight from Kigali via Harare to Cape Town on Wednesday.

RwandAir will be the first airline to introduce a direct flight between the Zimbabwean capital and Cape Town and the new route will be operational four times a week, all year round, with the aircraft departing from Kigali, collecting passengers in Harare to touch down in Cape Town.

Flight time to Harare is scheduled to take around three hours and the trip to Kigali, expected to take about six-and-a-half hours, including the 45 minute stop-over in Harare.

Passengers can select from two different levels of comfort, Business or Economy class with the flight boasts full connectivity through "On Air".

Since the establishment of Cape Town Air Access in 2015, the addition of the new route will amount to a total of eight new African destinations.

Economic Opportunities MEC Alan Winde said, "Rwanda is one of the fastest growing economies on the continent and Zimbabwe holds a lot of potential for development and we hope that by opening up access between Cape Town, Kigali and Harare, it will be easier to explore these possibilities." 

Harris said Harare was currently the largest unserved city in Africa for Cape Town with just under 40 000 passengers recorded through Cape Town International Airport last year. 
Passenger growth showed a 15 percent increase a year between Cape Town and Zimbabwe, with a significant 39 percent growth recorded between Victoria Falls and the Mother City last year.

According to research conducted by Wesgro's IQ unit, the top five Western Cape exports to Rwanda in 2016 included refined petroleum at R13.7 million, wine at R11m, recording a 100 percent growth, insecticides at R6.6m, engine parts, R3.8m and undenatured ethyl alcohol amounting to R1.8m.

The research showed that between January 2003 and December 2016, a total of eight foreign direct investment (FDI) projects were recorded from South Africa to Rwanda, which represent a total capital investment of $257.1m, with a total of 506 jobs created, while between January 2003 and June last year, a total of three FDI projects were recorded from Rwanda, representing a total capital investment of $37.3m, facilitating 46 jobs.