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Flying high

von Humphrey Nkonde


Some Zambian airports are still using chalk or marker boards to indicate upcoming flights. But this will soon be a thing of the past, because the Zambia Airports Corporation Limited (ZACL), has adopted the Smart Airports System (SAS), which relies on digital displays.

ZACL runs four international airports in the country, and SAS is an integral part of modern airport operations. It enhances efficiency and effectiveness. One of its components is the security alarm system which monitors intrusion into airport facilities. SAS also has the Closed Circuit TV (CCTV) component, which enhances surveillance inside and outside airport buildings. “It provides immaculate safety and security to the travelling passengers, airlines, aircraft and airport operators,” says Mweembe Sikaulu, the ZACL communications and brand manager.

Up to now, only Kenneth Kaunda and Harry Mwaanga International Airports had implemented SAS. Digital information systems can also be used to offer entertainment to passengers with films as they wait for their flights. Some companies have paid for advertising on the digital system at Harry Mwaanga International Airport, so the airport is generating some additional revenues.

ZACL is building a new airport, moreover, the Copperbelt International Airport. China has granted a loan  worth $ 397 for this purpose. The new facility will use SAS, of course.

The Copperbelt region already has an airport. It is Simon Mwansa Kapwepwe International Airport, but cannot be expanded because there is no space for bigger terminal buildings. Moreover, it is close to a township, the residents of which find the noise of landing and departing airplanes irritating. This airport was started as a military base for the British colonial power in 1938 and was converted into a civil-aviation facility in 1958.

According to ZACL, the old airport’s infrastructure is in a poor condition. For example, taxiways, runways and ancillary facilities are dilapidated. The management acknowledges that Simon Mwansa International Airport does not meet requirements set by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO). The construction of the new Copperbelt International Airport will therefore make it possible to increase air traffic to and from Zambia. It is being built farther away from homes and shops, so noise pollution will make fewer people suffer.


Humphrey Nkonde is a journalist and media researcher based in Ndola, Zambia.