Uganda’s Aviation Sector Scores 72.17% In ICAO Safety Audit

As you may be aware, Uganda recently completed a pivotal safety audit by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) from September 6 to 18, 2023. The preliminary results, announced on September 18, awarded Uganda an impressive score of 72.17%. This marks a substantial improvement, surpassing global and regional averages.

The audit assessed Uganda’s adherence to ICAO safety standards across eight critical areas. Importantly, Uganda has never registered a Significant Safety Concern (SSC), reflecting its commitment to aviation safety.

This achievement comes after Uganda’s exceptional performance in the 2017 Universal Security Audit Programme. These records showcase Uganda’s dedication to aviation safety and security.

In related news, Entebbe International Airport saw a historic high of 191,507 international passengers in August 2023, a significant recovery from pre-COVID levels. Below is the statement in detail;

“Uganda has been undergoing a Universal Safety Oversight Audit Programme – Continuous Monitoring Approach (USOAP-CMA), an on-site audit conducted by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) from September 6 to 18, 2023. The international audit aimed to evaluate the effectiveness of Uganda’s safety oversight systems in compliance with ICAO Standards and Recommended Practices (SARPs).

During the closing meeting of the audit held on September 18, 2023, ICAO’s Lead Auditor issued preliminary results for Uganda, awarding a score of 72.17%. These results indicated an overall improvement in Uganda’s safety performance, surpassing the regional/Eastern and Southern Africa (ESAF) region average of 55.66% and the global average of 67.68%. This audit score serves as a vote of confidence in Uganda’s aviation safety system, demonstrating to the international aviation community that the country complies with ICAO standards.

The score of 72.17% was achieved after evaluating Uganda’s effective implementation of the eight critical elements (CEs) of the State Safety Oversight System, as well as compliance with ICAO SARPs in eight audit areas, including Primary Legislation, Organization, Personnel Licensing, Flight Operations, Airworthiness, Aircraft Accident Investigation, Air Navigation Services, and Aerodrome and Ground Aids.

It is essential to note that Uganda has never registered a Significant Safety Concern (SSC). When a country registers an SSC in such an audit, it signifies a significant breach of safety standards, which can lead to several airlines avoiding that country’s airspace. I also take this opportunity to inform the public that Entebbe International Airport is certified. The audit team appreciated the regulator’s excellent work in the certification process of Entebbe International Airport and the re-certification of Uganda Airlines, among other achievements.

I urge the Regulator and industry stakeholders to maintain the momentum displayed during the on-site audit to ensure consistent oversight responsibilities and maintain a robust state oversight system.

The ICAO auditors clearly indicated that these are preliminary results. The final report with details will be issued by ICAO after six months. Industry practice suggests that the final results typically do not deviate significantly from the preliminary results.

The last ICAO audit on Uganda in the area of safety was the 2014 ICAO Coordinated Validation Mission (ICVM) in which the state scored 61.64%. The difference between an ICVM and the recent audit conducted on Uganda is that the ICVM assesses and validates the rate of implementation of corrective actions taken in relation to a previous audit, while the USOAP-CMA is a full safety oversight audit. Uganda scoring 72.17% in such a comprehensive audit is highly commendable.

Prior to this, the other most recent audit conducted by ICAO on Uganda was the Universal Security Audit Programme (USAP) in 2017, in which the country scored 81.8%, well above the then-global average of 72%. This achievement earned Uganda special recognition at the 2019 ICAO General Assembly in Montreal, Canada, with the award of an ICAO President’s Certificate in recognition of excellent performance. It’s important to note that the security audit differs significantly from a safety audit.

These records in both audits testify to Uganda’s commitment to upholding the highest standards of safety and security in the aviation industry. I commend all stakeholders involved in preparing for the audit, including but not limited to the Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs, Civil Aviation Safety and Security Oversight Agency (CASSOA), Uganda Civil Aviation Authority, Uganda’s aviation industry stakeholders, and the Ministry of Works and Transport, among others.

ICAO conducts such audits every six (6) years. If Uganda had not passed the audit, the country’s score would have fallen below the global and regional average, eroding confidence in the country’s aviation system. In such an international audit, the worst-case scenario is receiving a Significant Safety Concern (SSC), which can lead to the blacklisting of the entire country’s aviation system until the issues are resolved. Uganda’s impressive score reflects the hard work and effort dedicated to enhancing safety in the country’s aviation system. Moreover, since the audit focused significantly on the national airline, this success should ease the national carrier’s integration into international airline alliances and associations, opening tremendous opportunities for them and other licensed operators to secure more business.

ICAO, a specialized United Nations agency, is responsible for promoting the uniform development and growth of civil aviation among its 193 Contracting Member States. ICAO develops harmonized Standards and Recommended Practices for member States to implement. Uganda became a member of ICAO in 1967, and as a Contracting Member State, the country is obligated to comply with the articles of the Chicago Convention and the Standards and Recommended Practices outlined in the 19 Annexes to the convention.

In other developments, as part of the ongoing progress in Uganda’s aviation industry, international passenger traffic through Entebbe International Airport continues to rise. In August 2023, Entebbe International Airport recorded 93,560 arriving passengers and 97,947 departing passengers, totaling 191,507 passengers, averaging 6,177 per day, marking the highest figure ever recorded in a single month in the airport’s history.

The August 2023 international passenger traffic reflects an increase of 38,048 passengers compared to August 2022 and 6,254 more than the previous month, July 2023. This signifies progress and steady recovery in Uganda’s aviation sector from the adverse effects of COVID-19. In 2019, before COVID-19, the airport handled an average of 5,000 passengers per day.

During the period from January to August 2023, a total of 1,219,189 international passengers were handled, compared to 1,012,862 international passengers during the same period in 2022 and 1,166,796 international passengers in January to August 2019, before the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic. The January to August 2023 international passenger traffic figures reflect a growth of 20.37%

Recovery Of International Passenger Traffic (Jan – Aug 2023)

MONTH20192020202120222023Recovery (2023 Vs 2019) %Growth (2023) %

In relation to cargo, the airport handled 3,669 metric tones of exports and 1,705 metric tones of imports in August 2023, a total of 5,374 metric tones. In the period between January to August 2023, Entebbe International Airport handled a total of 26,822 metric tones of exports compared to 27,905 metric tonnes in the same period of January to August 2022, 26,118 metric tones in January to August 2021, 23,436 metric tones in January to August 2020 and 28,971 metric tones of exports in January to August 2019. The recovery rate for exports from pre-covid times stands at 92.58%. 

Performance Of Exports  (Jan- Aug 2023)

MONTH20192020202120222023Recovery (2023 Vs 2019) %Growth (2023) %

In terms of imports, Entebbe International Airport handled 10,726 metric tones from January to August 2023 compared to 13,923 in 2022, 16,790 in 2021, 14,053 in 2020 and 13,831 in 2019. The recovery rate for imports is 77.5%. 

Performance Of Imports (Jan – Aug 2023)

MONTH20192020202120222023Recovery (2023 Vs 2019) %Growth (2023) %

Of late there are more exports than imports through Entebbe International Airport, but cargo traffic has not recovered at the same rate as passenger traffic.”