Over the next 20 years, the continent of Africa is expected to experience a 5 percent-per-year expansion in its airfreight business, but it still must overcome significant challenges in terms of infrastructure, economic development and, above all, connectivity if it is ever to live up to its enormous potential, said Tony Tyler, the director general and CEO of the International Air Transport Association (IATA).
Speaking at the opening session at IATA’s Africa and Middle East Aviation Day in Nairobi, Tyler said governments, safety regulators and the cargo industry need to step up and be catalysts in driving aviation connectivity and infrastructure development in Africa. He cited four major categories that must be addressed before many African nations can ever become worldwide players in the airfreight business: Safety, regulations, infrastructure and environment.
Safety, Tyler said, is the first priority. “Africa experienced zero jet hull losses in 2014, an excellent result. The all-aircraft accident rate, however, remains considerably higher than the global average,” he said. The Abuja Declaration, a 2001 pledge for participating Africa governments to increase funding for healthcare to at least 15 of their annual budgets, must be followed up with action to increase compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) standards, he added.
Regulations, Tyler continued, can be made “smarter,” to enable better aviation connectivity, such as the liberalization of the intra-Africanair transport market via the Yamoussoukro Decision. Such open-skies agreements for African carriers, he said, can allow for more air cargo routes to be established across the continent. On the infrastructure side, he said “offering the right capacity at the right price” is essential for the growth of sustainable air services across Africa.
Regarding environmental goals, Tyler said IATA is committed to achieving its goal of carbon-neutral growth. “The negotiations for a global market-based measure to tackle carbon emissions from aircraft are entering a crucial phase ahead of the 2016 ICAO assembly,” he said. “It is vital that African governments support a workable solution, in order for a measure to be in place in time for the industry’s 2020 goal of carbon-neutral growth.”
Some of the senior government and industry leaders in attendance at the Aviation Day event included John Kipngetich Mosonik, Kenya’s permanent secretary for infrastructure and transport; Dzifa Attivor, minister of transport for Ghana; Barry Kashambo, regional director eastern and southern Africa at ICAO; Elijah Chingosho, secretary general of the African Airlines Association; and Gilbert Kibe, director general of the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority.