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Aviation can promote economic growth in Africa

Aviation can promote economic growth in Africa

By Natasha Jacha

The Airlines Association of Southern Africa (AASA) this month held their annual general meeting in Livingstone, Zambia, under the theme ‘forward looking and engaging and crucial for the future development and health of African airlines’.

The guest speaker at the meet, Paul Steele, Senior Vice president, Member and External Relations at the International Air Transport Association in his delivery mainly focused on the importance of Aviation in Africa.

Steele explained that, the aviation takes African exports to the world, whether its fresh agricultural produce, manufactured goods, or creative and cultural endeavours, it is air transport that makes the difference for Africa.

“This in turn still stimulates more economic activity, as tourists spend their money in restaurants, hotels, retailers, tour operators, and other providers of consumer goods and services. In 2016, spending by foreign visitors who flew to African countries supported an estimated 4.9 million jobs and a US$35.9 billion contribution to GDP,” he added

According to Steele, the air travel in Africa is expected to continue to grow at about 4,9% per year over the next two decades. Meaning that they growth will be in the economic sector and growth in creating jobs by the air transport industry over the next 20 years.

Additionally, Oxford Economics forecasts that by 2036 the impact of air transport and the tourism it facilitates in Africa will have grown to support 9.8 million jobs (60% more than in 2016) and a $159 billion contribution to GDP (an 184% increase).

However, in January 2018, African Union heads of state launched the Single African Air Transport Market, and its implementation is now being rolled out across the continent, with 26 countries so far joining the initiative and up to 40 expected by the end of 2018.

Steele said this project, along with the Continental Free Trade Area in Africa and the visa facilitation initiative, are three African Union Agenda 2063 flagship projects that will accelerate aviation growth across the continent and have the potential to provide better than forecast economic growth.

“If they can leverage the digital revolution and achieve world class customer service, and governments support with better infrastructure, lower costs, and pushing forward SAATM, then African aviation will leap ahead of the rest of the world,” concluded Steele.

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The Economist accommodates two interns every year, one per semester. They are given less demanding, softer issues to hone their skills, often with a specific leaning to social issues. Today, many of our interns are respected journalists or career professionals at economic and financial institutions. - Ed.