Aviation Africa 2023: Stepping Up For Business

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By Aminat Bakare

It is always a hit and no miss to have the dignitaries and who is who of the aviation industry converge to network, take important decisions about the sector, examine the growth experienced so far and also find a way to tackle the challenges and obstacles in the industry. This was exactly the experience the 7th edition of the Aviation Africa conference gave to its attendees.

The 2-day conference exceeded expectations and can be regarded a success as the event had in attendance over 1500 aviation leaders from more than 75 countries globally including exhibitors in the sector. The Aviation Africa conference hosted for the first time in West Africa in conjunction with the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority was held at the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, Nigeria and addressed the theme “Stepping up for business”.

The conference created a platform for Aviation finance, MROs, Business Aviation, Airports and Airlines, Regulators to address issues such as; Sustainability, Diversity, Collaboration, Cooperation amongst others.

SAATM Implementation

Despite the fact that connectivity is important to Africa, over 1.3 billion people are still not able to access travelling by air. The Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM) looks at overcoming this challenge.

In the words of Ms. Adefunke Adeyemi, the Secretary General of The African Civil Aviation Commission (AFCAC), “SAATM remains the key to unlocking Africa’s potential, it is important for Africans to embrace the “African Way” which is unique to only African countries to enable the ease of air connectivity.”

SAATM looks to “establishing a liberalized market within African countries, creating a conducive environment for affordable air transport, improving the quality of service to customers. The focus now, is granting fifth freedom traffic rights to stimulate the market in a different way as it enables access to new markets. Since launching SAATM PIP in November we’ve launched 11 new fifth freedom routes with more opening soon.”

According to Adefunke “although 37 Countries have signed the commitment to implement SAATM and 44 to the Yamoussoukro Decision, to be able to fully implement the goals of SAATM, the Accelerate Implementation project was launched”.

AFCAC says “If SAATM isn’t implemented, Africa will lose additional economic growth of US$4.2 billion over the next two years.”


Lifetime Goodwill Ambassador and Former President ICAO council, Dr. Olumuyiwa Bernard Aliyu, highlighted the disproportionate effects of climate change on developing countries.

He further stated that “Every state must do its part to limit carbon emissions and we must fully support the aviation sector’s targets including the long-term goal of net zero by 2030. Active involvement in climate change mitigation represents a challenge, but also a tremendous opportunity to build collaborative partnerships and technological advancements.”

In his opinion, “the development of SAF will be a key selling point for retaining existing and attracting new airline customers. As such developing SAF infrastructure is key and we need to collaborate closely with other stakeholders to increase the production and distribution of SAF across Africa.”

Also, Kuljit Ghata-Aura, president for Middle East, Türkiye and Africa, Boeing while speaking on Sustainable Aerospace Together said: “Sustainable aviation fuels offer the greatest potential to reduce our industry’s carbon emissions and the development of SAF is an effort that requires a broad set of stakeholders.”

In his presentation, he highlighted keys to accelerate SAF supply as; supportive government policies, feedback diversity, access to capital for new production and market-based incentives to make SAF price competitive.


During the course of the conference, the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) and the South African Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA) signed a Memorandum of Understanding on technical assistance and cooperation on aviation safety and other matters.

Present at the conference and representing each of their entities were; Capt. Musa Nuhu, Director General, NCAA and Ms. Poppy Khoza, SACAA. The signing was also witnessed by ministers from both countries; Hon. Festus Keyamo and Hon. Lisa Mangcu. This agreement comes after the conclusion of Nigeria’s 12 days ICAO Audit.

Challenges Of African Airlines

While giving his welcome speech, Alan Peaford, convener of the Aviation Africa event highlighted some of the challenges faced by African aviation industry globally, he stated that “A lack of investment in infrastructure, high taxes, workforce challenges, poor connectivity and a lack of MRO facilities are all challenges that the industry continues to face.”

According to IATA represented by the Regional Vice President for Africa and the Middle East, Mr. Kamil Al Alwadi, “African Aviation has recovered relatively well and there has been a 38% increase from last year for the first half of the year 2023 while the second quarter is about 9.2% below 2019”. Although these numbers are good, there are still a few challenges that are faced by African airlines such as high lease rates, taxes, and insurance.

IATA says that to address these challenges, the Focus Africa initiative that was launched in April in a bid to align private and public stakeholders in strengthening aviation’s contribution to Africa’s economic and social development, while improving connectivity, safety and reliability needs to be embraced. “We need to take a holistic view on addressing these challenges. Africa accounts for 18% of the global population but just 2.1% of air transport activities. We need to close that gap,” Al-Alwadhi said.

New Orders & Deliveries

During the conference, Nigeria’s leading airline Overland airways confirmed the delivery of its new aircraft, Overland’s MD, Capt. Edward boyo stated “The delivery of Overland’s first new E175 marks the beginning of an exciting chapter for the airline and Embraer. Nigeria represents one of the fastest growing aviation markets in the world.”

Also in the same light, Air Peace also confirmed the order for five new E175 jets, in addition to this, a new MRO facility will be developed in Nigeria to aid maintenance for the new jets. This is a great development for Nigeria and African aviation at large.

At the conclusion of the Aviation Africa conference, the Deputy Minister of Transport for South Africa Hon. Lisa Mangcu announced that the conference would take place in South Africa in 2024.

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