The International Air Transport Association (IATA) is launching an initiative designed to boost social development, improve connectivity, safety and reliability for both passenger travel and air cargo shipping companies in the African region.
IATA will bring together key people and businesses in a bid to hone in on six critical areas of focus. All will be measured on their progress over the course of what is being called ‘Focus Africa’.
The focus areas are: Safety, Infrastructure, Connectivity, Finance and Distribution, Sustainability and Future Skills.
High costs, poor infrastructure, skills shortages and the slow adoption of global standards all contribute to Africa’s low contribution towards air transport activities.
IATA Director General Willie Walsh said this of the associations plans to roll out the scheme: “Africa accounts for 18% of the global population, but just 2.1% of air transport activities (combined cargo and passenger).”
“Closing that gap, so that Africa can benefit from the connectivity, jobs and growth that aviation enables, is what Focus Africa is all about.”
The current state of Africa’s air travel industry makes for rather stark reading when you see that between 2020-2022 the continents carriers accumulatively lost 3.5 billion dollars, with further losses forecast for 2023 in the region of 213 million dollars.
Walsh: Potential for growth is clear
It is not all negative however, with the African continent’s recovery post-Covid well under way. Air cargo industry levels are 31.4% higher than in 2019, and air passenger travel is operating at 93%, with a full recovery expected by 2024.
“The limiting factors on Africa’s aviation sector are fixable. The potential for growth is clear. And the economic boost that a more successful African aviation sector will deliver has been witnessed in many economies already.”
” With Focus Africa, stakeholders are uniting to deliver on six critical focus areas that will make a positive difference. We’ll measure success and will need to hold each other accountable for the results,” continued Walsh.
Generating opportunities through partnerships
The air transport industry can play a key role in bringing together people and businesses to create economic development opportunities, which in turn will help contribute towards the UN’s initiative of lifting 50 million Africans’ out of poverty by 2030.
The first female Chair of the IATA Board of Governors, and Chief Executive Officer of RwandAir, Yvonne Makolo believes that Africa has ‘stand out’ potential when it comes to the aviation industry, saying:
“Africa stands out as the region with the greatest potential and opportunity for aviation. The Focus Africa initiative renews IATA’s commitment to supporting aviation on the continent.”
“As the incoming Chair of the IATA Board of Governors, and the first from Africa since 1993, I look forward to ensuring that this initiative gets off to a great start and delivers benefits that are measurable.”
Synergies between businesses’ will prove vital to the success of Focus Africa. The ability to pool resources and expertise, along with time and funding can ensure that the six key areas have the best chance of success.
Focus Africa will officially launch on June 20th – 21st, along with further detail on the schemes partnerships.