The officials at Entebbe International Airport, the only international airport in Uganda, announced that the airport’s newly constructed air cargo terminal, financed by Import-Export Bank of China, commenced business operations.
According to the officials, new terminal is now open for business and is expected to play a bigger role in boosting the landlocked East African country’s foreign trade.
The spokesperson of Uganda Civil Aviation Authority (UCCA), the state regulator of air transport in the country, said the new terminal replaces an old cargo terminal that was originally a hangar.
The newly constructed air cargo terminal is part of the $200 million expansion and upgrade of the Entebbe International Airport.
The commercial counselor at the Chinese embassy in Uganda, described new terminal as state of the art, saying it has the capacity to facilitate Uganda’s exports, especially in the agricultural sector, which is the country’s key economic activity.
“It is so impressive to see that steady progress has been made, we all know that Uganda is very eager to export is premium agriculture products to the outside world, to neighboring countries,” Jiang Jiqing said, after a tour of the airport, which is 30 miles south of Kampala, the Ugandan capital.
“I expect when the cargo center is put to full function, China-Uganda trade relations will increase,” she added.
When it is fully functional, the new air cargo terminal will accommodate 100,000 metric tons of cargo per year compared to the old one which had a capacity of 50,000 metric tons per year.
According to newly released numbers, Uganda’s cargo traffic is steadily growing. The volumes have grown from 6,600 metric tons in 1991 to 67,000 metric tons at the turn of 2021. Projections put the tonnage at 172,000 metric tons by 2033, according to the UCCA figures.
The construction project at Entebbe International Airport, which is under the Belt and Road Initiative, started in May 2016 and is now at a 76 percent completion level. According to China Communications Construction Company (CCCC), the project contractor, it is scheduled to be implemented in two phases. The first phase, with three-quarters finished, involves the construction of a new passenger terminal, a new cargo complex, and upgrade of two runways and their associated taxiways, rehabilitation and overlay of three tarmacs.
At the peak of the construction of the cargo center, the project employed 80 Chinese and more than 900 local employees at different skills levels. There were skills and knowledge transfers among the Chinese and local employees and construction materials were locally purchased with the exception of those that cannot be locally made.
According to the UCAA, there are ongoing discussions regarding the financing and implementation of the second phase.