Stories of projects that aim to improve infrastructure in East Africa are cropping up more these days, one example being Uganda’s principal hub, Entebbe International Airport (EBB), which is making moves to improve its cargo facilities.
The airport began a US$200 million expansion project in 2016, which includes the construction of a new cargo center, the rehabilitation of its old runway and a new aircraft parking apron, the last of which is expected to be completed early next year.
Construction for the project is being undertaken by China Communications Construction Company, the same contractor that constructed the Entebbe Express Highway. Rehabilitation of Entebbe’s old runway will be completed in February 2019; expansion of aircraft parking apron 1 in June 2019; and extension of taxiway Alpha sometime early next year. Taxiway Alpha is currently 75 percent complete; rehabilitation of the second runway is 35 percent complete.
“On completion of the center and its associated works, such as access roads and [a] cargo aircraft parking apron, operations are expected to be relocated from the old cargo center to the new one,” said civil aviation authority deputy managing director Fred Bamwesigye.
The airport is also improving its digital operations with the help of an agreement with the government of South Korea. The Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) project is a result of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) signed between the two countries in 2014 for South Korea to grant EBB $9.5 million in financing to improve the airport’s efficiency and safety, e.g. the implementation of a computerized maintenance management system and operational database system.
Vianney Luggya, the civil aviation authority manager of public affairs said that “the projects are aimed at reducing congestion,” adding, “good infrastructure attracts international air operations.”
The region is known to attract international demand for its perishable exports, but traditionally had lower demand for incoming air cargo capacity. But with shopping platforms like MallforAfrica emerging, creating channels for African consumers to engage in the international e-commerce realm, and with airports improving infrastructure, we wouldn’t be surprised to see a lift in demand for airfreight in African hubs in not-too-distant future.