It’s no secret that our continent holds massive potential … the trick, however, is to unlock these possibilities! “Increased intra-African air connectivity is essential if the continent is to seize the opportunities for growth promised by its demographic and resource advantages,” explains Raphael Kuuchi, International Air Transport Association’s (IATA) vice president for Africa.
He adds that aviation in Africa supports nearly seven million jobs and US$ 80 billion (around R854 billion) in gross domestic product (GDP). “It faces challenges, however, in terms of liberalisation of markets, safety, costs, infrastructure and regulation. Only through industry and governments working hand-in-hand can these challenges be overcome to the benefit of everyone across Africa.”
To provide African governments with a clearer view of the benefits of intra-African connectivity, IATA formally launched a report showing that liberalisation of air services across 12 African nations would create 155 000 jobs and boost GDP by US$ 1,3 billion (nearly R14 billion).
The report by InterVISTAS, an independent consultancy, calculated the positive economic impact of implementing the 1999 Yamoussoukro Decision, which pledged to open up air transport markets within Africa to transnational competition.
The 12 nations in the report are: Algeria, Angola, Egypt, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Namibia, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, Tunisia and Uganda.
“This report is a major step forward in quantifying the benefits of liberalising air services across Africa,” says Kuuchi. “It is absurd that it is possible to travel 13 times a week from Nairobi to London, yet impossible to travel directly from Nairobi to Dakar. A potential five million passengers a year are being denied the opportunity to travel, trade, and spread economic and social development.”
The Association adds that improved consultation and partnership between industry and government is the key to ensuring Africa enjoys competitive infrastructure and business costs. “In many parts of Africa infrastructure needs to improve, but it is important that improvements are funded according to established international principles,” it points out. “Transparency and consultation are critical.”
Kuuchi states that the foundation of a successful air transport sector is good physical infrastructure coupled with competitive costs. “Governments also have a role to play in encouraging air connectivity through appropriate taxation and enabling regulation. If aviation is treated as a cash cow, its ability to be an economic catalyst is compromised. Aviation is ready to play a much more prominent role in the economies of African countries, provided it is able to operate in a policy framework that values its contribution.”