July 2014

Deregulated air services and transnational competition in the African aviation industry could help expedite the path to an integrated Africa, according to a new report from the International Air Transport Association (IATA).

The study, conducted by independent economic consultant InterVISTAS and developed in collaboration with IATA and the African Airlines Association (AFRAA), highlights the crucial role air transport plays in driving economic and social development in Africa through enhanced connectivity.

African governments and leaders are urged to support the growth of the industry by fully implementing the 1999 Yamoussoukro Decision to help liberalize African skies, implementing global standards in safety, security, and regulations, reducing high charges, taxes and fees and removing visa requirements for ease of movement across the continent.

Opening regional air markets to transnational competition within 12 key African markets—Algeria, Angola, Egypt, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Namibia, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, Tunisia and Uganda—will provide an extra 155,000 jobs and $1.3 billion in annual GDP.

Among the areas of focus are potential employment and GDP. South Africa, for example will gain $283.9 million in GDP and an additional 14,500 jobs while Angola’s GDP will get an additional $137.1 million and create 15,300 new jobs. Nigeria, Africa largest economy, will add $128.2 million to its GDP plus 17,400 jobs. Algeria’s gains $123.6 million in GDP and 11,100 jobs while Uganda gets $77.6 million, plus 18,600 jobs.

“This report demonstrates beyond doubt the tremendous potential for African aviation if the shackles are taken off,” said Tony Tyler, IATA’s director general and CEO, in a statement.

He added that around five million passengers are being denied the chance to travel between these markets a year because of unnecessary restrictions on establishing air routes. Tyler emphasized that aviation can play a major role in helping to reach the African Union’s goal of an integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa and it is essential for African governments to use aviation as a critical driver of social and economic development. He pointed out that employment and economic growth are just “the tip of the iceberg in terms of the benefits of connectivity.”

“The Yamoussoukro process has been ongoing for decades—Africa cannot afford to delay its implementation any longer. Greater connectivity leads to greater prosperity. I am an optimist for Africa – but we need governments to act on their commitments, and set aviation free,” said Tyler.

African Civil Aviation Commission Secretary-General Iyabo Sosina added that the report should send a powerful message to states and their key decision makers such as finance, tourism and trade ministries across the continent to place aviation at the heart of their economic development and national planning growth strategies.

“Africa represents a huge potential market for aviation. It is therefore unfortunate that African states are opening their aviation markets to third countries but not to each other, which does not promote the spirit of the Yamoussoukro Decision. This isn’t just holding back African aviation, but African economies,” said Sosina.