Building the Future: Cambodia’s infrastructure boom boasts combined value of over $4 billion

PHNOM PENH: Cambodia's wings are spreading wide, as the Southeast Asian nation embarks on an ambitious infrastructure development program to fuel its economic growth and transform itself into a regional transportation hub. From sky-high aspirations of new airports to earth-shattering plans for a monumental canal, Cambodia is writing a new chapter in its infrastructure story.

Cambodia's ambitious infrastructure push takes flight with the recently inaugurated Siem Reap , a $1.1 billion jewel poised to propel tourism and economic growth. But the story doesn't end there. On the ground, another monumental project awaits its turn: the Techo Funan Canal, a $1.7 billion waterway carving a path from the Mekong River to the open sea, recently granted the green light by the government. And towering above them all, the Phnom Penh International Airport, the biggest international gateway in the making, stands half-built, its completion slated for late 2024.

The skies above Siem Reap sparkled with excitement on November 16th, 2023, as the grand inauguration of the Siem Reap Angkor International Airport took center stage. This $1.1 billion marvel, stretching majestically across 700 hectares, is poised to become a tourism magnet and a potent economic driver for both Siem Reap province and Cambodia at large.

Airbus A340-300s and Boeing 777s gracefully glide onto the runway, ferrying eager tourists to the wonders of Wat. The airport boasts an impressive capacity to handle 7 million passengers annually in its initial phase, with the infrastructure designed to eventually accommodate a staggering 20 million passengers by 2040.

This visionary project is a joint venture between three Chinese companies – Yunnan Investment Company, Yunnan Construction Company, and Yunnan Airport Operations Management Company – united under the banner of Angkor International Airport Investment (AIAI).

Cambodia's waterways are about to witness a transformative leap with the Techo Funan Canal, a groundbreaking $1.7 billion project that will stitch the mighty Mekong River to the open sea. This 180-kilometer marvel, meticulously planned as a public-private partnership (PPP), stands as a testament to Cambodia's commitment to self-reliance, opting for private investment instead of foreign loans.

The canal's two navigation lanes, each carving an impressive 100 meters of upstream and 80 meters of downstream water. This maritime masterpiece promises to revolutionize trade and commerce, with its four-year construction timeline paving the way for dams, bridges, and a scenic 208-kilometer riverside path that will touch the lives of an estimated 1.6 million residents across four provinces.

The crown jewel of Cambodia's aviation ambitions is yet to come Phnom Penh International Airport will be a large international airport, able to handle the biggest aircraft such as the Airbus A380 and Boeing 747. It will initially have a capacity of millions of passengers per year, with plenty of room to grow. The first phase of the airport will have numerous aircraft gates. The existing Phnom Penh Airport will be used for domestic flights, private jets, military and government use.

The Cambodian government has authorized the development company to build and develop the new Phnom Penh International Airport in southern Cambodia. The first phase of the project is a new airport with a total investment of billions of dollars.

The new airport is designed for tens of millions of passengers and will have advanced infrastructure, including three runways and a satellite terminal. Construction is over halfway complete and is expected to be finished by the end of 2024. The airport will start operating next year.

These three projects, though at different stages, are intricately woven together. Siem Reap attracts tourists, who then connect to the wider world through Phnom Penh. The Techo Funan Canal facilitates trade, feeding the economic growth fuelled by tourism. Together, they create a synergistic effect, propelling Cambodia's ascent on the regional and global stage.

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