Saturday, 19th February 2022, Arusha, Tanzania: The East African Business Council (EABC) applauds the Government of the Republic of Uganda under the leadership of H.E. Yoweri Kaguta Museveni for waiving mandatory COVID-19 testing for passengers traveling into the country through the Entebbe International Airport.
The waiver is set to boost the growth of business travel and tourism in Uganda.
Dissimilar and duplicate charges & measures on COVID-19 by EAC Partner States continue to affect travel, tourism and ease of doing business in the EAC bloc. Foreign and East African passengers are required to present a valid negative COVID-19 PCR certificate at the airports obtained from an accredited laboratory from their countries of origin before traveling, the PCR test is charged at appx. USD.50. However, on arrival at the destination airports, EAC Partner States have mandatory rapid testing charged at appx. USD 25, this duplicate requirement increases the cost of air travel, inconveniences passengers and negatively impacts the growth of business and tourism in the region.
The EABC also applauds the Revolutionary Government of Zanzibar for deploying EDE COVID Scanner (COVID-19 rapid testing technology that doesn’t require a nasal swab) at the Abeid Amani Karume International Airport.
The East African Business Council urges other EAC Partner States to follow this incredible move by the Republic of Uganda by waiving mandatory testing at the airports in order to harmonize COVID-19 measures and build back better EAC economies from the diversifying effects of COVID-19.
The COVID-19 mandatory testing requirement at the airports exacerbates the ease of air travel and tourism. According to EABC research, the EAC air space is not liberalized leading to high operational costs of airlines consequently air tickets. Over 40% of air ticket costs are due to landing fees, excise duty on aviation fuel, navigation and parking fees& levies by EAC Partner States. Furthermore, EAC Partner States lost international tourism receipts to the tune of USD.4.8 Billion in the year 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This resulted in the loss of about 2 million jobs, from about 4.1 million jobs recorded in 2019 to 2.2 million jobs in 2020 (EABC-AERC Study on Impact of COVID-19 on Tourism & Hospitality in the EAC).
The EABC also calls for the quick roll-out of the East African Community COVD-19 Pass to ease mutual recognition of COVID-19 test and vaccination certificates for East Africans.