Looking to attract more travelers from within the Africa and other continents, Zanzibar President had advocated for quick development of the African skies for African airlines.
The Zanzibar President Dr. Ali Mohamed Shein said that non-African airlines have dominated the continent’s skies and its aviation market for a long time. He sought more efforts to make African air carriers more vibrant to compete with foreign airlines.
“It is clear that 80 percent of the African air travel market is commanded by non-African-registered airlines,” Dr. Shein told delegates of the three-day 7th African Airlines Association (AFRAA) convention held in the Zanzibar.
He said in a statement read during the opening session of the convention, that both tourism and aviation industry rank among the fastest-growing economic sectors in the African continent with great need for improvement of tourists inflow and airlines expansion through associations.
The Zanzibar President insisted that the aviation industry plays a significant role in accelerating economic growth and providing various economic and social benefits to the continent.
“Air transport and tourism are among the fastest growing sectors in the world. We are all aware that practically, tourism and travel are inseparable entities. These two industries complement each other,” he charged.
Making reference to the World Travel and Tourism Council’s (WTTC) 2018 Economic Impact Report, Dr Shein said for the seventh consecutive year, travel and tourism have been contributing massively to global GDP.
“By 2028, the travel and tourism industries are expected to support over 400 million jobs at a ratio of one to nine of all jobs,” he noted.
The Isles President underscored the need to work towards a more integrated and connected Africa and challenged participants of the 7th AFRAA Convention to device new strategies to promote proper management of intra-African connectivity to enhance competitiveness for great benefits among African airlines.
He told the convention participants to deliberate on the challenges facing the air transport sector in the continent to come up with resolutions that will create more integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa, enjoying higher flow of tourists and flourishing aviation sector.
Dr. Shein informed delegates that according to recent statistics from the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC), the tourism and aviation sectors remain robust to boost employment and the world economy.
Tourism has the potential to be the leading income generator on the continent after oil and gas, but African countries have yet to utilize its full potential, he said.
The AFRAA Secretary General Abderahmane Berthé said the convention, themed “Harnessing Aviation Opportunities in Africa”, was designated for aviation stakeholders to deliberate on opportunities and challenges facing the industry.
Mr. Berthe said the sector was an important contributor to economic development in Africa by increasing trade activities and enabling faster and easier movement of passengers and goods. He however said there were several challenges including high costs of operation and competition from non-African carriers.
“African countries through AFRAA must ensure substantial investment in the aviation sector through enhancing available infrastructure”, he added.
Most of African countries are endowed with natural resources but their tourism attraction potentials are not reached due to poor or lack of aviation services, Berthe noted.
International Air Transport Association (IATA) vice president Raphael Kuuchi told the delegates of the Convention that governments must implement progams to support the development of the aviation sector.
He said African countries get more than $72 billion from the aviation industry through increasing numbers of tourists visiting the continent annually.
Mr. Kuuchi said Africa should also address infrastructure crisis which is looming especially as demand for air transport continues to grow.
He warned that development plans are not well addressed to make Africa benefit from the 7.2 billion air passengers expected to fly in the next 20 years.
Presentations at the AFRAA convention covered topics such as growth and profitability in a liberalized environment, airfreight in an interconnected environment, use of data to transform aviation business, effective implementation of the single African air transport, and sustainable infrastructural development for Africa.
Last year’s AFRAA stakeholder’s convention was held in Hammamet, Tunisia in May under the theme ‘Collaboration for sustainable aviation growth in Africa.
The Indian Ocean Island of Zanzibar had attracted 479,242 last year compared to 433,166 in 2016, with the number of tourists expected to increase by 14.2 percent to at least 500,000 arrivals in the next two years.