Just prior to this year’s NBAA convention, the African Business Aviation Association (AfBAA) held its first regional symposium in Marrakech, Morocco. A range of topics was discussed, highlighting not only the many issues that face business aviation as it grows on the continent, but also the strides that have been made by AfBAA itself since it was launched at EBACE in May last year. Since that time the association has grown quickly and now numbers about 50 members, who include OEMs, operators, support companies and FBOs, together representing a broad spectrum of the business aviation world.
AfBAA faces numerous issues in its role of supporting and expanding the role of business aviation in Africa. Many of the challenges come from the fragmented nature of Africa’s constituent states, political instability in some countries, a lack of standardization and a perception from the outside of questionable safety and quality. There is also the size and terrain of the continent itself, which combines with a lack of infrastructure to bring its own unique problems.
“There are no highways that link us, no roads,” asserted Tarek Ragheb, founding chairman of AfBAA. “The only option we have is air transportation, through both commercial and private means. Business aviation is the vehicle that will improve economies in the region.”
Among the organization’s tasks are to foster greater alignment between African nations and to educate African governments about the value of business aviation to their economies, especially as support to the growing oil/gas and mineral resources industries and as a vehicle to convey inwards investment. “We’re a very serious player in the advocacy of business aviation to African states,” Ragheb told AIN. “We need to do many things, but where do we start?”
Arguing the case for business aviation in Africa can be difficult: unlike in Europe where there is relative unanimity regarding standards, all of Africa’s 54 countries have separate requirements and legislations. AfBAA is developing a road show to take around to the civil aviation authorities of the continent, and is also taking every chance to meet and influence larger groups of states.
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