UGANDA – Uganda’s Entebbe International Airport, equipped with a state-of-the-art cargo center constructed by Chinese developers, has emerged as a catalyst for the East African country’s growing exports,

According to Vianney Luggya, spokesperson for the Uganda Civil Aviation Authority (UCAA), the new cargo facility has been in operation since 2021.

He emphasized the notable expansion in both space and capacity, asserting, “It is facilitating better because it has the capacity to handle 100,000 tons of cargo a year.”

The upgraded cargo center has proved instrumental in enhancing export capabilities, addressing the limitations posed by the outdated and space-restricted previous facility.

Luggya pointed out that the old facility struggled to manage less than 50,000 tons annually, in stark contrast to the current state-of-the-art center.

Statistics from UCAA indicate a positive trajectory, with the cargo center handling 39,000 tons of export cargo in 2021, a figure that increased to over 40,000 tons in the subsequent year.

Luggya emphasized that the growth is particularly pronounced in the export segment, showcasing a shift in trade dynamics.

The January report for Entebbe International Airport recorded 3,604 tons of export cargo, surpassing the December figure of 3,555 tons.

“The only part of cargo that has grown is exports. We have more exports than imports. Even the January figures show that exports have grown,” remarked Luggya, underscoring the strategic importance of the cargo center in bolstering Uganda’s export sector.

Uganda’s exports predominantly comprise fresh produce, including flowers, fish, vegetables, and fruits, with Europe serving as a major destination.

This surge in export activity aligns with Uganda’s broader economic strategy, aiming to elevate its status as a significant player in the global market.

Despite being historically self-sufficient in food production, Uganda recognizes the potential for economic growth through increased exports, especially in sectors like fruits and vegetables.

The government’s focus on diversifying its exports is evident, with a specific emphasis on enhancing infrastructure such as modern packhouses, cold storage, and implementing stringent food safety procedures.

Agriculture, employing over 70 percent of the population and contributing a quarter to the country’s GDP, plays a pivotal role in Uganda’s economy.

Export-oriented initiatives are seen as a crucial avenue for increasing incomes, reducing poverty, and creating employment opportunities, particularly for women and young people.

In this context, businesses like Zahra Food Industries are contributing to Uganda’s export journey. Specializing in dried young jackfruit sourced from around 300 smallholder farmers, Zahra exports to food manufacturers in the Netherlands.

The growing demand for plant-based meat substitutes has prompted Zahra to explore additional markets, with a keen interest in the UK, the US, and France.

The collaboration with China in developing the cargo center stands as a testament to international cooperation fostering economic growth in Uganda, as the country strategically positions itself on the global trade map.

For all the latest fresh produce industry news updates from Africa, the Middle East, and the World, subscribe to our NEWSLETTER, follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn, like us on Facebook, and subscribe to our YouTube channel.