ICAO, AFRAA emphasize importance of air connectivity to African development

NIGERIA-born president of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), Dr Olumuyiwa Bernard Aliyu, has called for increased air connectivity and competitiveness of air transport in Africa through the full implementation of the Yamoussoukro Decision and the Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM).

He also made a case for the promotion of socio-economic benefits of tourism and aviation; the fostering of public engagement as a crucial partner through public awareness campaigns and education programmes; the adoption of aviation infrastructure development and related priorities into National Development Plans; the strengthening of African Civil Aviation Council (AFCAC); increased human resources and skilled aviation professionals and the ratification of the Montreal Convention of 1999, the Cape Town Convention and its Protocol and other instruments governing international air transport.

Speaking at the 20th anniversary of the Yamoussoukro Decision, a convention that supports this objective in Dakar, Senegal, the ICAO president highlighted the importance of aviation development to broader sustainable development in Africa with compelling statistics saying: “Passenger traffic for the African region is expected to grow by 4.3 per cent annually up to 2045, while freight traffic should also expand faster than the world average, at 3.9 per cent annually over the same period.

“These increases should see aviation-related employment growth in Africa increasing to roughly 9.8 million jobs by 2036, and its air transport GDP impacts almost tripling to $159 billion over the same period.

“But we must also recognize and act upon the fact that the current status of connectivity on this continent is still sub-optimal, and thus hindering the realisation of the aviation benefits now awaiting African societies.”

Also speaking, the Secretary General of ICAO, Dr. Liu also appreciated the significant progress made by Africa in terms of the recognition of international air connectivity as a catalyst of economic, social and cultural development and the resulting liberalisation that has been achieved to date.

Her words: “A key consideration for the African Ministers who adopted the Yamoussoukro Decision was that the strict regulatory protections sustaining national carriers at that time were having significantly detrimental effects in terms of aviation safety, affordability, and, not surprisingly in light of these factors, poor air traffic growth in Africa”.

Equally, key players across sixty countries across the world who attended the recently concluded African Airlines Association’s (AFRAA) 51st Annual General Assembly (AGA)  in Mauritius, have agreed  that the theme of the summit ‘Success in an integrated and interconnected Africa’ will help uncover challenges, opportunities, lessons and recommendations that will help galvanize efforts towards making the aviation sector in Africa more resilient and competitive.

Speaking as Chief Guest at the opening ceremony, the Acting President of the Republic of Mauritius, His Excellency, Paramasivum Pillay Vyapoory, said: “I am delighted that the AFRAA AGA is being held in Mauritius following a successful Stakeholder Convention last May. Our island state is a vivid example of the impact Air Connectivity can have on a country’s economy. Africa is a continent of opportunities. Only a collaborative effort from all of us can help unlock the potential of aviation and stimulate further economic growth on our continent. I wish all delegates a fruitful summit.”

In his opening speech, AFRAA Secretary General, Mr. Abderahmane Berthé said: “In an effort to boost the competitiveness of African airlines, we have created the AFRAA consulting unit which will serve as a knowledge and expertise hub for the African air transport market. Furthermore, our vision, mission and strategic objectives have been revamped to ensure we can better meet the needs of African carriers so they can become key players and drivers of African economic development.”

He added that the governance framework of the Association has been redesigned to enhance efficiency and effectiveness.

AFRAA presently represents more than 85 per cent of the air transport market in Africa and has recently grown its fraternity with five new members namely: Nigeria’s Air Peace Airline, Safarilink aviation, Air Djibouti, Air Senegal and Uganda National Airlines

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