About 5 million out of Africa’s 7 million aviation and tourism industry-related jobs have been lost in 2020. Also, as much as $15 billion in revenue, half of this to African airlines.
This was disclosed by the African Development Bank (AfDB) in a statement issued on Friday.
Vice President for Infrastructure, Industrialization and Private Sector, AfDB, Solomon Quaynor explained that the pandemic’s effect was felt more in Africa, a claim that was backed up by numerous panelists at the just concluded AfDB’s webinar themed ‘African Aviation Recovery Conference: coordinating an efficient response to the COVID-19 crisis’s effects on the Aviation sector in Africa.’
He said, “The air transport system is really at the forefront of all our collective objectives to realize Africa as a single economic bloc. The centrality of the aviation sector to Africa’s long-term goals by referencing three flagship projects of the AU’s Agenda 2063 that aim to advance open skies and closer connectivity: SAATM, The African Continental Free Trade Area, and the African Passport-Free movement of people.
“The air transport system is really at the forefront of all our collective objectives to realize Africa as a single economic bloc of 1.3 billion people with a GDP of almost 3 trillion dollars, for which we want to begin to really focus and increase trade among ourselves, as well as investment.”
Also at the event, Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika called on African governments to embrace full liberalisation of the aviation sector, invoking the Yamoussoukro Decision, which established an arrangement for the gradual liberalization of intra-Africa air transport services.
He said, “Nigeria today has all its bilateral air service agreements with the YD and was also among the first ten countries that signed a commitment to implement the Single African Air Transport Market.”
Dr. Amani Abou Zeid, African Union Commission for Infrastructure and Energy, explained that Africa’s aviation industry represents a huge market that the continent’s airlines need to exploit more fully, with technology and AI offering the way forward for expansion, regional development experts.
“Technology and smart technologies are offering this fantastic opportunity, so let’s make use of AI, let’s make use of the Internet of Things, let’s capacitate our people to revamp and to rethink our industry, to make sure that both our airports and our airlines cater for the very near future,” said Zeid.
A key takeaway was the urgent need for coordinated action among the sector’s actors, including governments, aviation authorities and multilateral stakeholders such as the Bank.
“The time is now. All of us who have really been working on upstream issues such as SAATM, the World Bank, ourselves, the AU and others, now is the time to really pool our advocacy and resources to make this happen once and for all because if we continue to operate as a federation of 54 states as opposed to an integrated market, our economies will continue to be sub-optimal,” said Quaynor