Plans are in motion for the Uganda Civil Aviation Authority (UCAA) to withdraw from the management of Entebbe International Airport, with the organization aiming to concentrate on its regulatory functions.
The revelation was made during the UCAA Stakeholders Engagement Breakfast Meeting at the Serena Hotel in Kampala, where Fred Bamwesigye, the director of UCAA, discussed the organization’s intention to separate regulatory responsibilities from airport management. This strategic move is currently under internal discussion before presenting an informed report to the Cabinet for consideration.
The proposal to divest from airport management was prompted by a recommendation from retired aviation expert Barry A. Kashambo during a keynote address. Kashambo, who served as the ICAO Eastern and Southern Africa regional director, suggested that such a move aligns with International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) recommendations and enhances oversight.
Transport Minister Katumba Wamala, the chief guest at the event, expressed agreement with Kashambo’s proposal, emphasizing the importance of allowing UCAA to focus on regulation while entrusting airport management to another entity. He echoed the sentiment that separating these functions would improve service delivery to clients.
During a panel discussion, Kashambo highlighted potential conflict of interest issues arising from the combination of airport management and regulatory roles. He also emphasized the need for increased investment in African aviation to address deficiencies in regulation, personnel, safety, and security.
Addressing UCAA’s recent audit performance of 72% by ICAO in September, Kashambo stressed the importance of striving for better results, as the global average for a good rating stands at 75%. He pledged support, particularly in the areas of security and accident investigation, where Uganda’s performance was reported to be lacking.
Minister Katumba Wamala commended Kashambo for his candid remarks and urged Parliament, especially the Budget and National Economy Committees, to recognize the strategic importance of the aviation sector in resource allocation.
The minister also encouraged UCAA to ensure improved performance in the upcoming civil aviation security audit scheduled for January and February 2024. Regarding ongoing expansion and modification works at Entebbe International Airport, he expressed confidence that they would be completed by December to create a welcoming environment for the Non-Aligned Movement and Commonwealth Speakers and Presiding Officers of Parliaments conference in January 2024.
UCAA Board chairman retired Justice Steven Kavuma emphasized the need for focus and commitment to further improve Uganda’s standing in the aviation industry.