Civil Aviation Authority of Botswana: Embracing change in the aviation sector

Infrastructure development across the African Continent is helping to create opportunities for globalisation and economic growth and in turn, that has a significant impact on the aviation industry both in terms of passenger footfall and freight demand.

Within Botswana, for the past decade, management of civil aviation has fallen squarely at the feet of the Civil Aviation Authority of Botswana (CAAB).

airport-terminalThe Gaborone-based organisation was established by the Civil Aviation Authority Act, 2004 (CAA Act, 2004) which mandates CAAB to promote aviation safety and security and ensure the regular and efficient use and development of Civil Aviation in Botswana. The Authority commenced full operations on 1st April 2009 as a statutory Corporation under the Ministry of Transport and Communications (MTC).  

CAAB is responsible for 5 major international airports within Botswana: Francistown; Sir Seretse Khama Airport (Gaborone); Kasane; Maun and Selebi-Phikwe, in addition to a myriad of smaller airports, while Air Botswana is based at Gaborone.

Since January 2015, Geoffrey Puseletso Moshabesha has worked for CAAB and is currently the organisation’s CEO:

“We are the only Aviation Regulator and Airport Services provider in the country and

CAAB is 100 per cent parastatal owned by the Botswana Government.

“Our annual turnover is Pula 111 million (2014/15) and there are currently 757 (85.2 per cent) employees against 888 positions.

“The Civil Aviation Authority of Botswana is a Statutory Corporation established under the Civil Aviation Authority Act (CAP 71:04) of 2004. This Act was repealed by the Civil Aviation Act of 2011. CAAB is responsible for, amongst others, the regulation of air transport and enforcement of civil aviation regulations, the provision of air navigation services as well as the operation and development of airports and advising the Government on civil aviation matters.

“We operate 6 international airports and 18 air strips and the organisation has jurisdiction over: all foreign aircraft in Botswana; all Botswana aircraft within or outside Botswana; all air navigation in Botswana; all aerodromes in Botswana; all aspects of air transport services, public transport and aerial work in Botswana; all aspects of aviation security in Botswana; and control of the National Airspace,” he describes.

At present there are a number of major airline operators with activities in Botswana, chiefly: Air Botswana; South African Express; South African Airlink; Kenyan Airways; Air Namibia and Ethiopian Airlines.

Currently Moshabesha says that passenger footfall is on the rise: “Passenger numbers are increasing; however, at a slower pace. The increases can be attributed to a number of causes:  increase in the number of airlines operating into Botswana, general economic recovery of the world and the region in particular.”

Increased demand of course puts extra emphasis on infrastructure – and has seen CAAB invest, as Moshabesha explains:

For the past few years Botswana has invested in the upgrading of its 4 main airports. One airport has been completed; one will be completed in July 2015 while 2 others are at various stages of expansion.

“Our work includes: Kasane Airport – the construction of a new terminal building, ATC and support facilities; at Maun Airport – the construction of a new air traffic control tower and technical block and at SSKIA – completion works on the new terminal building,” he says.

In addition to infrastructure, Moshabesha emphasises that there is a growing importance for information technology to ensure the smooth running of operations:

“Information Technology has a significant impact on the day to day matters of safety, efficiency, capability, capacity, environmental impact and financial performance of Civil Aviation and air transportation.

“Information Technology supports the Air Traffic Management system which is fundamental to the control and management of the Gaborone Flight Information Region (airspace).

“Information Technology enables the flow of airline information which is essential for the smooth operation of an airport and passenger movement.

“Information Technology provides a basis for databases that carry financial information taking place on a day to day basis for the functionality of aviation services.

air-traffic-controller“Information Technology helps CAAB improve its service delivery by finding solutions through relevant applications and achieve its strategic plan.

“Information Technology also provides data network backbone for all IT based systems to be available at other airports and other stakeholders like the military, Police Services etc , Airlines, Aviation school etc. IT is the backbone and platform of all systems and daily activities in CAAB. It makes CAAB business scalable, flexible and efficient. It also promotes accuracy and reduces risk.”

Managing supply chain and quality are important elements to the success of CAAB, as Moshabesha outlines:

“CAAB manages the quality of equipment from the factory or source by conducting factory tests on all equipment bought for use at the airports. Only equipment that passed factory tests is allowed into the country. On arrival equipment is further inspected by engineers and technicians to ensure that it is still in the same condition and fit for use. 

“CAAB further engages suppliers of equipment to maintain and supply the right spare parts. This is mainly to guard against supply of pirate parts. A supplier of equipment would normally do good work to secure market for their products and to maintain good reputation of their Companies.

“In addition, the right people are engaged to draw, write and specify quality standard of goods and services. Where expertise is lacking, consultants are engaged to ensure quality products and services are met at all times. For example, works contracts or building contract, consultants are engaged to draw specification and to monitor implementation of the project. The consultants ensure the right material and labour is used throughout projects.”

Whilst investment has – and continues to make a difference, Moshabesha says that there are still plenty of challenges to address: “These include continuity in meeting the International Civil Aviation Organization Standards and Recommended Practices; while there remains a lack of resources to address infrastructure development and maintenance.

“It is always a challenge to attract, develop and retain staff with appropriate skills, qualifications and the experience to perform all technical and professional functions of the Authority,” he states.

Commercially, he adds, low aviation activity remains a challenge, but one the CAAB is addressing: “Botswana has during the past few years liberalised its skies, engaged in major projects to expand its aviation industry by refurbishing and expanding its airports and concluding bilateral agreements with other countries in order to attract flights into the country.

However, I do confirm that it is a good time to be in this growing sector. CAAB is therefore taking advantage of the growth. Research has shown that aviation brings enormous benefits to communities and economic growth around the globe. It enables economic growth, social development and tourism, providing connectivity and access to markets.

“As a tourism destination, we as a country, can and should tap into opportunities provided by aviation and related activities. The CAAB stands at the cross-roads to provide an enabling environment for these economic opportunities for Botswana.

“Going forwards, CAAB is looking forward t: enhanced aviation safety and security; improved navigation capabilities by taking advantage of emerging technologies; increasing the revenue by exploring other revenue sources including non- aeronautical avenues; improvement of capability to recruit, develop and retain staff due to enhanced working conditions; and consequently better positioning to connect the country both internationally and internally and act as a catalyst in the development of the country’s economy, tourism and trade,” he concludes.