•The continent is implementing the Single African Air Transport Market agreement aimed at creating a common African air transport market by eliminating physical barriers.
•More than 300 million people will be travelling from, to, and within Africa by 2038, according to IATA.
Protectionism could hold back the forecasted growth of Africa’s air transport market by about 50 million passengers over the next two decades, the International Air Transport Association has warned.
Speaking at Routes Africa 2019 in Mombasa, Kenya, Raphael Kuuchi, vice president of Africa at IATA, said that it is estimated more than 300 million people will be travelling from, to, and within Africa by 2038.
According to the trade association of the world’s airlines, Africa is forecast to be the second-fastest growing region in the world over the next two decades, with growth of 4.5 per cent per year,
African airlines are projected to add an additional 208 million passengers to the current total of about 140 million.
“However, if the signs we are seeing in markets such as the US and some European countries, where there are attempts to constrain liberalisation, are present here in Africa, then we would lose about 56 million passengers,”Kuuchi said.
In a quick rejoinder,Kenya Airports Authority (KAA) acting managing director Alex Gitari said the growth of aviation market requires “strategic planning and long-term investment plans especially in the areas of air transport infrastructure.”
“KAA has managed to meet and interact with over 30 Airports and Airlines. These haspotential new routes and partnerships,” said Gitari as he pledged his support for Pan-Africanism and liberation of African Skies.
IATA’s forecast predict that the size of the continent’s market will reach 356 million passengers if current regional and global economic trends continue. However, a pick-up in protectionism could wipe more than 50 million off that total.
Conversely, if there is an acceleration of growth, driven by policies including the Single African Air Transport Market(SAATM), the African market in 20 years will be more than 400 million passengers in size.
Launched in January 2018, SAATM is the flagship project of Africa’s integration Agenda 2063, aimed at creating a common African air transport market by eliminating physical barriers.
32 African countries out of 54 have signed the SAATM agreement while 18 of them have signed the implementation agreement.