Uganda will earn at least $3bn (about Shs 8.5tn) annually from air transport if plans to construct four new international airports and the refurbishment of Entebbe airport succeed.
This is more than half Uganda’s current budget of Shs 15tn and above the Shs 8tn that Uganda Revenue Authority collected from both domestic and international taxes last financial year. The Uganda Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) revealed last week that the country had embarked on an ambitious plan to build fourteen airports, with four of them international by 2034.
According to Rama Makuza, the executive director of Civil Aviation Authority, the country will have three regional airports, six local airports to handle smaller planes, one military base airport in Nakasongola, and five international airports.
“The Nakasongola base is already 60 per cent complete,” said Makuza at the launch of the National Aviation Master plan at Imperial Royale hotel on Thursday.
The plan is intended to anchor the aviation sector to the national vision for 2040, which seeks to transform the country to middle- income status.
“The master plan is designed as a recipe for the industry’s growth,” Makuza said. “The number of people coming to and going out of Uganda has been growing; there is also high interest in the tourism industry, the oil and gas sector, which all need a robust air transport industry”.
According to the master plan, international airports will be situated in Entebbe, Hoima, Arua, Pakuba, and Kasese. Makuza said Hoima was chosen specifically because of its strategic location in the oil region. Already, plans are underway to develop an airport near the refinery to support the movement of equipment and labour for the development of the refinery and the oilfields.
The government says it has embarked on the process of developing a master plan and detailed engineering design for the planned airport. A consultant is being hired under the guidance and support of International Civil Aviation Organisation to start work by February 2015.
Meanwhile, some $400m has been earmarked for the refurbishment and extension of Entebbe airport. According to CAA, passenger traffic at Entebbe will grow from 1.4 million people who were handled in 2013 to more than 7.5 million passengers by 2033. Cargo is also projected to grow to 172,000 tonnes, from just 56,000 handled last year.
Works and Transport Minister Abraham Byandala said they expected the air transport industry to not only facilitate travel but also contribute immensely to the growth of certain sectors such as tourism and trade.
“For instance, it is projected that the tourism sector will contribute $12bn to the national economy by 2040,” Byandala said.