in Aerospace / Events

Aviation Africa 2019 opens with calls for Open Skies

Posted 27 February 2019 · Add Comment

The 2019 edition of the annual Aviation Africa Summit and Exhibition – being held 27th & 28th February in Kigali, Rwanda – was officially opened this morning by Rwandan President, HE Paul Kagame, who delivered a strong message of support for the aviation industry along with a reaffirmed determination to see Africa progress with its ‘Open Skies’ actions.



President Kagame (above) was chairperson of the African Union (AU) in 2018 when the agreement for the introduction of a Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM) was signed by African nations. He said: “Sixteen countries in Africa are landlocked, including Rwanda – that is almost one-third of Africa - but every country is air-linked. So, geography should not be seen as an excuse for underdevelopment. This highlights the importance of regional integration where there have been some notable achievements over the past year, chief among these is the Single African Air Transport Market. However, the full promise of this pact only becomes apparent in the wider context of the African Continental Free Trade Area, and the Protocol of the Free Movement of Persons which were also signed last year. It is therefore important to attract more countries to join the Single African Air Transport Market, and to fully implement its provisions.”

He added that Protectionism is a short-sighted policy, which only serves to keep the African market fragmented, inefficient, and expensive - thereby reducing opportunities for African firms: “One industry analysis has calculated the requirement for new aircraft in Africa over the coming generation at more than 1,000 aircraft with a value exceeding $150 billion dollars. That means there will be many more high-quality jobs for African pilots, engineers, and service personnel, to operate and maintain this equipment professionally, and above all, safely.”

The Minister of Infrastructure and Transport for Togo, Hon Mme Zoureatou Tchakondo Kassa-Traore, whose president Faure Gnassingbé is the AU’s ‘Champion’ of the initiative, also called on African states who have signed the commitment to ‘implement without delay’: “There is no doubt about the benefits to our States from the full implementation of SAATM,” said the Minister, “By integrating our air routes and opening up the African skies with the implementation of SAATM, we are broadening the paths of growth and development of our continent.”

The fourth edition of the Aviation Africa Summit & Exhibition saw more than 800 delegates from 71 countries converge on the Kigali Convention Center. The audience included government ministers, air chiefs of staff and directors general of civil aviation authorities with representatives from 35 African nations.

Industry is well supported in the exhibition hall with 100 exhibitors including Host Sponsors Nexus & Wyvern, Platinum Sponsor Gulfstream and Gold Sponsors Bestfly and Airbus. “The Aviation Africa summit has established itself as an important business event on the African calendar,” said Hadi Akoum, vice president, sales for Sub-Sahara Africa & the Indian Ocean Islands at Airbus. “With urbanisation, population growth and economic expansion, Africa’s air travel market is doubling in size every 15 years, making it one of the fastest expanding markets.  When one takes a broader view, aerospace in Africa also presents significant opportunities for industrial, social, knowledge-based and entrepreneurial partnerships that are essential to sustainable development.”



Above:
Chairman of IATA, HE Mr Akbar Al Baker, addresses the conference delegates.

HE Mr Al Baker, Chairman of the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and CEO of Qatar Airways, also spoke at the opening session. He too addressed the need for liberalisation of aviation regulations in Africa to bring improved connectivity to travellers, as well as significant benefits in trade, tourism and employment. He noted that although Africa makes up 16% of the world’s population, it only captures approximately 3.1% of the world’s air travellers.

He said: “Now is the time to reconsider how Africa’s aviation market is positioned in order to maximise its full potential. Governments should leave behind protectionist approaches to regulating aviation and embrace liberalisation, because when such policies are adopted, countries benefit from improved connectivity and a positive impact on trade, tourism and employment.

“Africa is a promising land for aviation. The list of distinguished guests here today is clear confirmation of Africa’s commitment to reach new heights in the coming years.

“The launch of SAATM in January 2018 and the African Continental Free-trade Area in March of 2018 are testament of Africa’s visionary leadership and long-term thinking in aviation.

“Going forward, we need to support the successful implementations of regional initiatives that aim to improve Africa’s position in the areas of igniting integration, trade, human capital, air connectivity, and tourism. I don’t think there is any continent in the world that has bigger tourism potential growth than Africa.”

The annual Aviation Africa Summit and Exhibition is organised by Rochford (Essex) based TIMES Aerospace Ltd in partnership with Aerocomm Ltd and Access Group. TIMES Aerospace Ltd has organised three previous editions of Aviation Africa in Dubai, Kigali and Cairo. The 2018 event attracted 850 delegates and 110 exhibitors.

 

 

 

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