Ensuring maximum airspace security is important to the overall security architecture of any nation. Tanzania has launched a new radar system in Julius Nyerere International Airport in Dar es Salaam. Speaking during the launching ceremony on Monday, September 16, 2019, the Tanzanian President, John Magufuli said,
“Tanzania’s airspace is now 100 percent secure following the acquisition of four radars that will enhance safety and security of the country’s airspace. Initially, the country had only one which had a surveillance capacity of 25 percent leaving 75 percent of the country’s airspace unsecured.”
Prior to the inauguration of the new radars, the country had to rely on the military and neighboring countries to control air traffic. The only operational radar has been in operation for 14 years since its purchase in 2002. The system which has a 10-year lifespan has already outlived its usefulness. However, besides security the new radars will boost the economy in different ways.
The impact of the new radars on the economy
The installation of the new radars means the country can now expand its airspace operations. Consequently, a new terminal was opened last month at Julius Nyerere International Airport. According to analysts, this new terminal will lead to an annual increase in traffic by six million. This means more revenue gain to the government. In a live broadcast, the president said,
“The new radar will attract more aviation companies to use our airspace and therefore increase revenues.”
Currently, only two of the new radar installations are complete. According to the director of the Tanzanian Civil Aviation Authority (TCAA), Hamza Johari, Kilimanjaro and Dar es Salaam airports installations have been completed. However, that of Songwe airport is at forty percent while that of Mwanza airport is at 90 percent.
The actualization of a three-year dream
The first time the TCAA announced its plans to purchase new radars was in 2016. At that time, Johari mentioned that the agency was budgeting $24 million for two new radars. However, the final cost of the radar remains unknown. In a statement in 2016, Johari said,
“After fitting the new radar systems in Dar es Salaam and Mwanza, we are going to purchase two more radars that will be installed at Kilimanjaro International Airport and Mbeya Airport. With those four radar sites operational, we will be able to monitor the entire Tanzanian airspace and even beyond. The intention is to have a network of airports that will cover the whole country, with the capacity to handle modern aircraft as well as to provide services for 24 hours.”
Back then, Engineer Edwin Ngonyani, the deputy minister for works, transport and communication made a harrowing revelation. He said the country lost about Sh.18 billion ($8.25 million) annually to radar coverage taxes. According to Ngonyani, neighboring Kenya and Uganda were earning billions from such charges annually. However, with the new radar installations, the country will be able to save more money for other developmental projects.