Uganda to spend $365 mln to revamp main airport

KAMPALA (Reuters) – Uganda will spend $365 million over the next six years to upgrade its sole international airport to accommodate growing passenger numbers, a senior official said on Friday.Uganda is at various stages of implementing several multi-billion dollar infrastructure projects, including two hydro power dams, a refinery, express highways and a railway line to expand its economy and prepare for oil production around 2018.Rama Makuza, the managing director of state-run Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), said the money to improve Entebbe International Airport would come from internal savings and debt. It was not clear how or when the authority would issue the debt.”Uganda’s air transport is expanding vigorously. This expansion is mirroring the country’s economic growth momentum which is very strong,” Makuza said of the airport, which sits on the shores of Lake Victoria.Makuza said the airport’s authority expected passenger traffic to expand by about 7.5 percent each year for the next five years on the back of a surge in business travel.The number of travellers at the airport has increased steadily to 1.3 million last year, compared with about one million passengers handled in 2010.Cargo shipped through the airport grew modestly to about 52,000 metric tonnes from 49,000 tonnes in the same period.A new passenger terminal building, air traffic control tower and cargo handling centre will be built, Makuza said, while two existing runways will be re-built.Uganda’s finance ministry estimates the economy will expand by 5.3 percent in the 2014/15 fiscal year, and reach 6 percent in the coming years, mainly propelled by investments in transportation and energy infrastructure.Kampala estimates its crude reserves, along its border with the Democratic Republic of Congo, at 6.5 billion barrels.

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