People can seldom travel between regions or countries in Africa without having to stop over first in a European airport, a South African transportation minister says.
Lack of effective transportation to connect countries in Africa is impeding the continent’s economic potential, according to South African Public Enterprises Minister Malusi Gigaba.
Poor airport infrastructure, uneven development, growth lags and high user charges are among challenges hindering growth in Africa, Gigaba said Monday at the International Air Transport Association’s annual general meeting in Cape Town.
In South Africa, a country with 25 percent unemployment, air transportation is a key employer, providing more than 200,000 jobs directly and indirectly, according to a report in eProp.
Rail infrastructure reinforces mining extraction and exports in West Africa, Gigaba said in the report, but that’s just one region of Africa.
With the growth of the African middle class and its demand for goods and services, air transportation is crucial to ensuring sustainable growth in Africa as it impacts the global economy, Gigaba said.
Many African countries agreed to liberalize air services as part of the Yamoussoukro Declaration of 1988, according to a World Bank report.
The declaration, which calls for full liberalization of intra-African air transport services, has proven a challenge to implement, Gigaba said in eProp. It calls for freedoms in access, capacity, frequency, tariffs, rights for passenger and freight air service. These rights, granted by most international air service agreements, the report says, include enabling non-national carriers to land and take on traffic.
“Despite these challenges, both African and other international carriers have been actively pursuing the opportunities found in Africa,” Gigaba said.
South African Airways, Ethiopian Airlines and Kenya Airways are the largest carriers in Africa, according to eProp.