Entebbe International Airport Set For a $400 million Dollar Expansion But Project Funding Yet To Be Identified

Posted February 23, 2015 by Ugandan Diaspora News Team in Business ~ 3,418 views



For a project that is slated to begin in June, either a big chunk of the funding for it would safely be kept somewhere or the source would have been confirmed by now. Officials of the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) are keeping their fingers crossed because their multi-million dollar project to expand Entebbe International Airport is exactly in the same position.

In an interview on Feb. 14, Ignie Igunduura, the public relations manager at CAA), told The Independent that though the government has not yet identified the source of funding for the long awaited expansion project, they are still hopeful about their target.

The expansion, according to CAA and industry observers, is good news for Uganda as the number of passengers and cargo is expected to keep on the rise curve as the country continues to grow the various sectors of the economy. Located, on the shores of Lake Victoria, the airport is expected to be upgraded through a grant or loan to the tune of about $400 million (Shs 1.1 trillion). Igunduura said with the master plans in place, it is expected that the government will identify a financing source soon to enable commencement of the projects. “CAA’s anticipation is that the expansion works at Entebbe will start mid this year,” he said. The Projects are to be implemented in three phases over a 20-year period – short, medium and long term.

Planned facilities, benefits

Igunduura said they are eyeing a new look airport. Before works start to expand the passenger terminal building, they will need to raze down the current cargo warehouse building. That will happen after they have put up a new modern cargo centre on a completely new site and then will go ahead to breakdown the existing cargo warehousing and then extend the passenger terminal building Southwards in the area where they will have removed the current cargo facilities. CAA would have loved to have all planed facilities at once but because airport operations must continue, that is difficult. In the first phase – 2014-2018 – CAA plan to have achieved some of the short-term projects like expansion of passenger and cargo terminal.

Between 2018 and 2023 (phase two), they are planning to have put in place a cargo centre. This centre is in line with cargo projection numbers. In the same phase, they will have to relocate fuel facilities. “But if we get all the money, we should have this also done in the first phase because the moment you have a new cargo centre location with an aircraft parking centre, then you will have to make a decision on whether there will be fueling at the cargo centre or from the passenger side,” said Igunduura.

Should it be decided that they fuel from the cargo centre, then CAA will have to also develop or extend the fueling facilities to that particular place within the first phase of the project.

Phase three will also cover another version of the cargo centre. It will run from 2024 and 2033. Also in this phase, the CAA plans to put in place a multi-story car park. The current facilities can still hold the airport traffic. There will be many other facilities that will be put up in the phases as work goes along.

On a whole, the expansion will create bigger aircraft parking space, spacious passenger departure lounges, a modern cargo centre together with a shopping mall, larger car-parking space and an expanded departure concourse. The direct benefits will include faster movement of people and goods, more user-friendly facilities and enhancement of the airport’s competitiveness. The expansion is expected to cope with the growing traffic, both passenger and cargo that has been recorded over the years.

High numbers

CAA figures indicate that passenger traffic at Entebbe Airport rose from 543,590 in 2004 to 1,464,004 in 2013 while cargo volumes grew from 47,893 tons in 2004 to 55,701 tons in 2013. The Aviation body projects traffic at the Airport at 2,377,100 international passengers by the year 2018 while cargo is expected to hit 77,100 tons by the same year. By 2023, international passenger numbers are expected to record a high of 3.8 million and cargo up to 100,700 tons per year.

The expansion, once completed, will see the CAA, other factors constant generate more revenue to run the operations, train and maintain a highly-skilled and multi-disciplined workforce and invest in new technology, equipment and plant. At present, the airport is handling 21 airlines, six of which are local but were grounded in June last year following an international audit by International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), while the rest are international.

Rama Makuza, CAA’s managing director, told The Independent in a recent interview that the expansion is timely given that the country is growing the number of airlines although the local ones still have challenges because of the expensive nature of aviation business. CAA has put more emphasis on six major areas: safety, security, competitiveness, airport infrastructure, and human resource development among others.

Makuza’s stance on all these is expected to have a direct and indirect impact on the growth of sectors like tourism, agriculture among others in terms of exports and imports and movement of passengers. Among the other facilities to be covered during the expansion will be the reconstruction of the runaway and widening it in anticipation of the Airbus 380, the world’s biggest passenger plane. They will also put up an aircraft maintenance centre, which should cope with or fit a home-based airline and that the relocation of the fuel tanks will be done on an area of about 20 hectares.

They are also looking at constructing a ferry port to help with the supply of aviation fuel, goods and passengers, and to link with the towns of Mwanza and Kisumu among other plans. The tourism industry, good roads, hotels, security and the commitment by CAA staff will continue to drive passenger and cargo numbers up, he said. Uganda’s transport minister, Abraham Byandala said, government will fully support the expansion, plan which he believes will facilitate the growth of Uganda’s economy and put Entebbe Airport on the international map.

Aviation companies have welcomed the development. “It is good news for us and the country,” said an official at Emirates Airlines, adding that the current airport is still at the standard of the 1970s yet traffic has been growing year-on-year. That means that the expansion would result into better airport services and infrastructure that will in the end attract more passengers in the country.

Financing queries

Igunduura dismissed earlier reports that the expansion is planned under a public private partnership arrangement. It is thought that the financing is going to be at a bilateral level with a country offering Uganda a grant or a loan, he said.

Jim Mugunga, the spokesperson at the Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development said the government will definitely try to get the funds either from the treasury or through a public private partnership arrangement. “The parties involved will follow the right procedures to get the required financing for the project,” he said. However, it remains unclear whether the remaining three months will be enough for the government to source the funds, get a contractor to begin the expansion project.

When asked on whether the project could be delayed because of financing challenges, Igunduura said the government is aware and it has been behind the entire project. “They know that CAA on its own cannot afford to fund the project,” he said, but I can’t tell you how far they have gone. But I am sure shortly we will have to make some announcement.”

CAA, according to Igunduura, has confidence that the government’s focus on funding infrastructure projects in which aeronautical infrastructure is key, the planned projects will take off.

The other challenge has been land. At the moment, CAA is yet to get all the land that they wanted but have been given some by the ministry of agriculture, animal industry and fisheries. Currently, the airport sits on 500 acres of land. CAA wanted another 132 acres, which belongs to the ministry of agriculture. CAA has so far got 97 from the ministry, according to Igunduura.

“It is still inadequate even if all of it was given to us it wouldn’t be enough,” Igunduura said, airport projects are huge both in size and scope, he added.

Indeed, in the next 20 years, Entebbe Airport will need a lot of land because the population is growing and so is business. So very critical decisions will have to be made; either leave Entebbe as a city airport to facilitate Entebbe and Kampala, which are expected to merge in 20 years anyway – and relocate the international airport elsewhere in the country or plan to start the relocation of people from the peninsular so that there is space for the Airport to expand.

After the 20-year expansion phase, CAA are looking at having an organized and attractive airport for both operators and users because of the modern facilities that match international standards. Similar developments have yielded tangible benefits in countries like Netherlands, Mauritius, and Singapore among other countries. That is where Uganda is heading and it will involve two key supporting factors; land and the private sector. Indeed, the aviation industry is growing because Uganda is becoming a popular tourist and investment destination. Tourism, trade and investments, oil and gas among other sectors are going to play a key role in boosting the sector’s growth. “I see a very bright future for this country in as far as aviation is concerned if we act,” said Igunduura.

Source — The Independent Business Desk.

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Ugandan Diaspora News Team

Ugandan Diaspora News Online is an independent, non political news portal primarily aimed at serving Ugandans who work and reside outside Uganda. Our aim is to be a one stop shop for everything Ugandan and the celebration of our Ugandan heritage.


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