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Africa could earn Sh127b annually if it opens airspace

By Nicholas Waitathu | June 24th 2015 at 12:00:00 GMT +0300

Africa stands to earn about Sh127.4 billion annually if it opens its air space by entering mutually beneficial international agreements, a trade association of the world’s airlines has said.

International Air Transport Association said that by opening up the air market, the continent is likely to attract more than five million passengers every year. IATA Director General Tony Tyler yesterday said Africa airspace has for long performed dismally despite its endowed potential.

The snail performance, he said, has largely been due to slow implementation of the Yamoussoukro Decision, a pact made in 2000 between 44 countries to allow a more liberal airspace arrangement. The decision has to date not been formally implemented.

“Africa is set to be one of the fastest-growing aviation regions over the next 20 years, with annual expansion averaging nearly 5 per cent. This opens up incredible economic opportunities for Africa. But, aviation faces considerable challenges, and for its potential to be realised, correct policies must be developed,” said Tyler.

“Smarter regulation and a focus on delivering the safety and connectivity commitments of the African Union, will be crucial to establishing Africa as a global aviation powerhouse.”

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Tyler said IATA recently commissioned a research on the impact of applying the Yamoussoukro Decision to 12 key markets across Africa. He said, the results were startling.

“Intra-African liberalisation between these 12 markets would provide an extra 155,000 jobs and $1.3 billion (Sh127.4 billion) in annual Africa Gross Domestic Product (GDP). A potential five million extra passengers a year would have the chance to travel,” he added.

IATA earlier in a report stated that if Kenya opens up its air space, it is likely to expand its labour market by creating 15,900 more jobs, boost GDP by Sh7 billion while 406,000 passengers will be increased to its routes.

New entrant

Tyler made the remarks in a Nairobi hotel during the IATA Africa and Middle East Aviation Day. Owing to the increasing demand of passengers in Africa, both established and new entrant carries have developed interest to service the increasing demand.

For example, Sub-Saharan Africa now has three major hubs in Ethiopia, Johannesburg and Nairobi. African countries in January this year committed to fully implement the Yamoussoukro deal with a view of increasing business.

International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) Regional Director in charge of the Eastern and Africa Barry Kashambo said African Union has formed an inter-ministerial committee to fast-track the implementation of the pact.

Acting Transport and Infrastructure Cabinet Secretary James Macharia said Kenya plans to amend its primary civil aviation legislation in order to uphold the letter and spirit of the Chicago Convention that led to the formation of ICAO.

“Our government is fast-tracking a process of restructuring, retooling and skills development are ongoing to enhance the oversight capacity of the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority,” said Mr Macharia.


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