In 2000, 44 African countries, including Uganda, signed the Yamoussoukrou Declaration, in which they committed to deregulate air services to, among other things, promote regional markets and open up the space for transnational competition.
However, in spite of the liberal access, an expanding global airline industry driven by investment and tourism, aviation experts contend that Africa’s contribution has been hampered by challenges in the level of capacity and infrastructural bottlenecks at its airports.
Citing the East African region, key policy and decision makers from leading airlines, airports and tourism sector players across Africa and beyond, noted during an aviation summit in Kampala on July 8, that most airports in the region were still undergoing expansion.
“If you don’t sort out the traffic jams and very long parking, you will not get tourists,” Dr Titus Naikuni, the Chief Executive Officer Kenya Airways said in his keynote address at the opening of the aviation forum in Munyonyo. He gave an example of Entebbe airport.
“Each process gives birth to a cost. Until we solve that problem and solve it soon, the cost will continue [to go up]. If you don’t do it, who will do it?”
In Uganda, a new 20-year Civil Aviation master plan is being developed to guide capacity expansion at Entebbe International airport and other airports around the country. Rwanda is embarking on building a new modern airport. At Jomo Kenyatta and Julius Nyerere International airports, capacity is being expanded.
State minister for Works Dr Stephen Chebrot said regulatory control, financial constraints, environmental protection and political guidance were major factors that must be addressed in order to avoid any challenges in capacity.
“It is good to develop routes. However, these positive arrangements must be matched with infrastructural expansion of our airports,” Dr Chebrot said.
Civil Aviation Authority Managing Director Rama Makuza said development of more air routes to and from Uganda was top of CAA’s list of priorities. “Interconnectivity on the continent is very critical and there is need for global networks,” Makuza said.
Delegates to the Routes Africa strategy summit, which ran from July 7-8 at the Speke Resort Munyonyo, discussed and planned air service development across Africa.
“The Routes Africa summit has enabled us meet quite a number of stakeholders in different industries and this will contribute to the expansion of business,” said Marc Deleu, the Managing Director, DAS Handling Ltd, one of the co-organisers of the summit.
Routes Africa is the key event for airports, airlines, tourism authorities, policy leaders, keynote speakers and exhibitors to meet and do business and plan for the future. Organisers of the conference said the event brought together 250 key players.