Building a safe and secure aviation industry in West Africa, leveraging the growth of the agro-industry through aviation, positioning African aviation to benefit from global disruption in the aviation industry, developing quality airport infrastructure to support national economic growth as well as securing the prosperity of aviation in West and Central Africa were the kernel of discussions at the International Air Transport Association (IATA) Regional Aviation Forum held in Accra, Ghana, late June 2019.
With over 200 participants from the industry, the forum organized by IATA and the Ghana Ministry of Aviation addressed the most critical issues affecting aviation for Africa, with a particular focus on West and Central Africa.
His Excellency Mahamudu Bawumia, Vice President of Ghana, urged African leaders and stakeholders in the aviation industry to seek greater collaboration between African countries in order to make air travel within the continent flexible and less cumbersome.
He also called for the actualization of the single African Air Transport Market (SAATM) and the need to move away from bilateral engagement to a multilateral engagement under the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement.
Mr. Muhammad Albakri, IATA’s Regional Vice-President for Africa and Middle East, says: “Placing aviation at the center of African governments agendas is key to unlocking the immense potential of Africa and generating the economic and social benefits of a safe, secure and sustainable air transport industry.”
“While it is evident that aviation in Africa has the potential to fuel trade and economic growth, several barriers exist: weak and costly infrastructure, high ticket prices, poor intra-Africa connectivity, and a proliferation of taxes and charges,” highlights Mr. Albakri.
Mr. Albakri adds: “Collaboration is key to addressing these regional challenges. We must ensure a strong dialogue and partnership between government and the aviation, and I encourage governments to use the Smarter Regulations approach to collaborate with industry stakeholders and also to consult transparently and objectively across the aviation value chain to ensure benefits for all.”
Also, Mrs. Aduke Atiba, Overland Airways’ Executive Director, emphasises the use of technology to improve airline operations and services to passengers. Overland Airways has benefited from technology through online and mobile technology-based interfaces for booking and check-in, among other passenger-related services.
The event emphasizes that aviation is one of the key drivers of the advancement of modern society because of its ability to physically connect individuals over a wide geographical area safely and quickly, and is one of the key pillars to unlocking the economic potential of any nation. Countries that have strategically utilised the aviation industry to holistically develop their economies have grown in leaps and bounds over a relatively short period of time and continue to enjoy immense socio-economic value from aviation.
It also stresses the proliferation of regulations and policies inconsistent with international best practices such as ICAO SARPS and policy guidance, or which are simply detrimental to the growth and sustainability of the aviation sector, creates operational and financial burdens for the industry and makes it difficult for aviation to deliver its promises.