“With Aviation, Africa Can Better Realize Its Ideals Of Regional Integration, Peace, Prosperity” – Mr. Raphael Kuuchi

IATA's Vice President, Africa, Mr. Raphael Kuuchi says without aviation, Africa would be a more fractured and constrained continent; but with aviation, it can better realize its ideals of regional integration, peace and prosperity.

Mr. Kuuchi who made this known recently in his remark at the opening of the 7th Aviation Stakeholder's Convention organized by the Africa Airlines Association (AFRAA) in Zanzibar, Tanzania, says the aviation industry and the benefits it brings to our continent is great. He says aviation reunites loved ones, provides vital connections to remote communities and delivers lifesaving aid to those in need.

Mr. Kuuchi, says: "$72.5 billion in economic activity and 6.8 million jobs are supported by aviation in Africa. Over the next 20-years, air travel is forecast to grow at nearly 6% per year in Africa.This represents significant opportunity. Fulfilling this potential will not happen by chance; strong partnerships and cooperation are key. For too long, a lack of cooperation has blighted our great continent's development."

"We are, however, starting to see change. The vast majority of African leaders recently signed a framework establishing the African Continental Free Trade Area - the largest free trade agreement since the creation of the World Trade Organization. And if all African countries join the area by 2030, the market size will be 1.7 billion people with over $6.7 trillion of cumulative consumer and business spending capacity," he adds.

"Similarly, the African Union's recent launch of the Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM) initiative, which will open up Africa's skies and improve intra-African air connectivity, is a very positive step towards transforming the fortunes of our industry and the lives of Africa's citizens. Wherever open air service frameworks have been implemented, they have resulted in boosted traffic, additional jobs and economic growth. We expect no less in Africa. An IATA report indicates if just 12 key African countries opened their air transport markets, the increased connectivity would foster 155,000 additional jobs and the creation of an extra US$1.3 billion in annual GDP in those countries.

"But, there is a caveat.  For the African Continental Free Trade Area and SAATM to fulfill their full potential - they must be fully implemented.  This will require greater collaboration between - governments, who must follow-through with their commitments so their economies and aviation can fly high.

"The great partnership that exists between IATA and AFRAA-to support the success of our member airlines- is a great example of collaboration delivering results. Together we have helped make air travel in Africa safer - in 2016, sub-Saharan Africa had its best performance in 10 years with no passenger fatalities or jet hull losses.

"The Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA) - which is aviation's license to grow sustainably- is another example of our collaboration. Seven African states have already come aboard for the voluntary period and we encourage more states in the region to join. If you need help, IATA and AFRAA are at your service.

"IATA and AFRAA also work closely to enhance security, unblock airline funds, avoid air traffic management re-fragmentation, combat unnecessary and fruitless infrastructure investment and ensure Africa has the talent it needs now and in the future, to support the industry's growth.

"The transformative power of collaboration is a proven fact. If all of the continent's aviation stakeholders placed collaboration at their heart of their businesses, then aviation in Africa would soar," Mr. Kuuchi concludes.