Global Markets

IATA launches Focus Africa initiative to strengthen aviation’s contribution to Africa’s development

In order to increase aviation’s contribution to Africa’s economic and social development and to increase connectivity, safety, and dependability for travelers and shippers, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) has launched “Focus Africa.” By this effort, commercial and public players will be brought together to produce quantifiable improvement in six areas.

“While Africa has 18% of the world’s population, it only participates in 2.1% of aviation activities” (combined cargo and passenger). Focus Africa is all about closing that gap, so that Africa can gain from the connectivity, employment, and prosperity that aviation allows, according to IATA Director General Willie Walsh

The customer experience is impacted by infrastructure limitations, high costs, poor connection, regulatory barriers, a slow uptake of international standards, and a skills scarcity, all of which have an impact on the business and sustainability of African airlines. For 2020–2022, airlines across the continent lost a total of $3.5 billion. In addition, IATA predicts additional losses of $213 million in 2023.

Fulfilling Africa’s Potential

It is essential for bringing people together and fostering chances for economic and social development that the African continent is sustainably connected by air travel both inside the continent and to international markets. Also, it will assist in achieving the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for Africa, which call for the emancipation of 50 million people from poverty by 2030. Aviation is especially important for trade and tourism, which have enormous untapped potential to boost wealth across the continent, create jobs, and reduce poverty.

The argument for increasing aviation’s contribution to the development of Africa is well-founded. 7.7 million employment and $63 billion in economic activity were provided by pre-COVID aviation in Africa. For the next 20 years, demand is predicted to quadruple.

The continent of Africa stands out as having the most potential and opportunities for aviation. IATA’s dedication to assisting aviation on the region is reaffirmed through the Focus Africa project. Yvonne Makolo, CEO of RwandAir and the first female Chair of the IATA Board of Governors, said: “I look forward to ensuring that this initiative gets off to a great start and delivers benefits that are measurable as the incoming Chair of the IATA Board of Governors and the first from Africa since 1993. (2023-2024).

Six Important Areas

The aviation industry’s obstacles in Africa can be overcome. There is definitely room for expansion. And many economies have already seen the economic boost that a more prosperous African aviation sector will bring. Stakeholders are working together through Focus Africa to deliver on six important emphasis areas that will have a beneficial impact. We’ll track our progress and hold one another accountable for the outcomes, added Walsh.

The six areas of emphasis are:

  • Safety: Enhance operational safety by implementing a collaborative, data-driven program to lower safety incidents and accidents, both in the air and on the ground.
  • Infrastructure: Promote the development of an effective, secure, and affordable aviation infrastructure to enhance customer satisfaction and operational effectiveness.
  • Connectivity: Encourage the Single African Air Transport Market’s liberalization of intra-African market access (SAATM).
  • Accelerate the acceptance of contemporary retailing standards and the implementation of safe, efficient, and cost-effective financial services in finance and distribution.
  • Sustainability: Help the African aviation sector reach the “Net Zero by 2050” carbon reduction goals set by business and the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) member nations of the UN.
  • Future Skills: To fulfill the needs of the industry, promote aviation-related career opportunities and maintain a consistent supply of diversified personnel with the necessary qualifications.

The Influence of Alliances

“Partnerships will set Focus Africa’s results apart from earlier attempts to use air travel to spur development in Africa. In order to support the shared objectives of the six work areas, stakeholders will efficiently combine their resources, research, experience, time, and finance through partnerships, according to Kamil Al Awadhi, IATA Regional Vice President for Africa and the Middle East.

On June 20–21, in Addis Abeba, the partners will formally launch the Focus Africa initiative and work together to provide further information on each job area.

The timing is favorable

Africa’s rehabilitation from the COVID-19 crisis is still ongoing. Air travel is 93% above 2019 levels, while air cargo is 31.4% above 2019 levels. It is anticipated that aviation travel would fully return by 2024.

“Focus Africa’s tasks are not brand-new. As part of the efforts of IATA and other stakeholders in Africa, work has already begun. Yet it is a special time for rebuilding after the pandemic caused the financial damage to African aviation. By implementing Focus Africa right away, we can make sure that aviation recovers from COVID-19 even more quickly than we did in 2019,” stated Al Awadhi.

Leave a Reply