Uganda is making rapid strides to emerge as the regional business hub for the East African Community (EAC). In an effort to promote regional and international trade, Uganda has launched several schemes to improve its telecommunications and logistics infrastructure. In a much overdue move, Entebbe International Airport is being expanded to handle about 150,000 operations a year, with the aim of making it the regional hub for aircraft from around the world. Funded by the US government, the new expansion plan for Entebbe airport would expand the terminal building, increase air cargo handling capacity and expand the runway and landing area. Additional space will be created in the main terminal to build departure lounges and to extend the duty-free shopping area within the airport.
As part of the expansion, the government of Uganda is also inviting tenders for the construction and management of an exclusive airport hotel, development and provision of In-flight Catering services and the establishment of cold storage facilities. Entebbe International Airport lies astride the equator, for which reason it has often been described as the “Airport on the Equator”. Elevated at 3,782 feet above sea level, the Entebbe International Airport is part of a peninsular bordering Africa’s biggest fresh-water lake, Lake Victoria.
The need for expansion has come at an appropriate time. Uganda has been registering an impressive GDP growth rate in the last decade and has been successful in keeping its inflation rate under control. The Ugandan economy has been expanding in size and stature as it begins to attract foreign direct investments from all around the world. Entebbe has seen a substantial rise in the number of airlines flying in and out of its airport in recent years. Being a landlocked country, Uganda’s contact with the outside world is largely dependent on air connections. Goods are usually flown in to Uganda for further distribution within the country. As a result, air cargo movement is of paramount importance for the overall expansion of the Ugandan economy.
Recognising the need to regulate the smooth flow of air cargo, the government of Uganda has changed the basis for taxation of air cargo from CIF to FOB in order to boost airfreight and enhance global competitiveness. It also abolished the monopoly of Entebbe Handling Services (ENHAS) in air cargo handling. The liberalisation of the service is expected to reduce the inefficiencies and delays in cargo handling and to professionalise cargo handling by attracting technical and management expertise.
The expansion of the airport and cargo handling capacity at the Entebbe International Airport will help Uganda find new markets for its coffee. Coffee is of fundamental importance to the economy of Uganda, it’s the leading export agricultural commodity, accounting nearly 50 per cent of total foreign export earnings, and providing a livelihood to the vast majority of the rural population, estimated at around 2.5 million.
Uganda grows two types of coffee Robusta and Arabica in the ratios of 9:1, respectively. Robusta coffee is famous for its very good quality attributed to climatic and soil conditions, singular to high altitude, under which it is grown..