NOTE: Alexandre de Juniac was unable to attend the AFRAA AGM, and the speech was delivered by Raphael Kuuchi, IATA Vice President, Africa.
Your Excellency the President of the Republic of Rwanda, Ministers, Secretary General, industry colleagues, ladies and gentlemen. All protocols observed. Good morning. Thank you to Elijah Chingosho, Secretary General of African Airlines Association for the kind invitation to attend this event. And a special thank you to Colonel Chance Ndagano, CEO of RwandAir for the superb hospitality.
It is appropriate that we are meeting in Rwanda—a country that showcases aviation’s ability to power economic and social development. With GDP growth of about 8% annually over the last decade, Rwanda is among Africa’s fastest growing economies.
Tourists—many arriving by air—are a significant driver of this growth. The establishment of RwandAir 10 years ago, the development of policies that support the growth of aviation, reduced bureaucracy with visas on arrival, and the liberalization of air services are paying off. Continuing this policy focus will certainly unlock even greater development potential for Rwanda and neighboring countries.
In fact, I see Africa as the region with the greatest aviation potential. Over a billion people are spread across this vast continent. And aviation is uniquely placed to link Africa’s economic opportunities, connecting the continent internally and to the rest of the world. Doing so expands prosperity and changes peoples’ lives for the better.
Of course you don’t need me to tell you about the continent’s great promise. Already aviation supports $72.5 billion in economic activity and 6.8 million jobs here. And the scale of aviation’s footprint in Africa is estimated to quadruple over the next two decades. By 2035, the number of passengers traveling to, from or within Africa could reach 300 million.
The impact of that growth in supporting the UN’s Sustainable Development goals will be tremendous. This includes the challenging goal of eradicating poverty—that still afflicts 400 million people in Africa—by 2030. And the development of aviation will facilitate improvement in the key challenges of healthcare and education as well.
Challenges in Africa
The opportunities for aviation are great. But so are the challenges. Many carriers struggle to break-even. And, as a whole, African airlines will lose $1.50 for each passenger they carry this year.
Some challenges are beyond our control—the appreciation of the US dollar for example. But governments should be aware that Africa is a high-cost place for aviation. Taxes, fuel and infrastructure charges are higher than the global average. Additionally, insufficient safety oversight, failure to follow global standards, and restrictive air service agreements could all add to the burden that stands in the way of aviation’s economic and social benefits.
So, what needs to be done?
Let’s start with safety--our number one priority. Last year sub-Saharan Africa had no passenger fatalities or jet hull losses. This is a great achievement. Congratulations to all!
There is still work to be done. The all-accident rate—which includes turbo-props—was 2.3 per one million flights. It’s improving, but there is still a gap to close to reach the global all-accident average of 1.6 per million flights
Committing to the IATA Operational Safety Audit (IOSA) improves safety. The results speak for themselves. The accident rate of 33 sub-Saharan airlines on the IOSA registry was half that of those not on the registry. AFRAA and IATA have made IOSA a requirement for membership. And there is good reason for Africa’s governments to include IOSA in their safety oversight as a condition for an Air Operator Certificate.
There is some work to do for airlines as well. Only 40% of African airlines have fully implemented the IATA Ground Operations Manual—or IGOM—into their ground procedures. IGOM is the global standard and 100% implementation is the goal. Our Africa and Middle East team are ready to provide support if you need help.
We also need to nudge African governments ahead on their commitment to world class safety made in the Abuja declaration. The key is implementation of global standards. We have seen improvement and stronger performance. But there are still gaps to fill.
- For example, only 22 African states have implemented at least 60% of the International Civil Aviation Organization’s standards and recommended practices on safety oversight.
- And some states are falling behind on critical elements of the revised Abuja targets such as the establishment of a Runway Safety Team.
The second priority for African governments is enabling airlines to improve intra-Africa connectivity. How many opportunities to build the African economy have been lost simply because convenient flight connections were not available? How many tourists did not explore this fascinating continent because there was no efficient way to get from A to B?
While we cannot undo the past, we should not miss out on a bright future. An IATA study revealed that if just 12 key African countries opened their skies we would see a demand for 5 million more passengers, creating 155,000 jobs and expanding the continent’s annual GDP by $1.3 billion.
Those are compelling statistics. And they bear out the vision of the Yamoussoukro Decision from a few decades ago. In the past three years since the launch of this study we have seen an increase in intra-Africa passenger traffic by about 10%. We continue to encourage the 22 states that have signed up for full implementation of the Yamoussoukro Decision to follow through on their commitment. They would make a great case for other states to join them.
Those much-needed actions could be given a boost with the imminent launch of the Single Africa Air Transport Market –SAATM -- by the African Union. The industry understands and supports it. To be successful, however, governments must focus on the economic and social benefits that SAATM will create….and deliver.
Along with unblocking the barriers to connectivity, we must also work with a few African governments to unblock airline funds.
To do business effectively, airlines must be able to reliably repatriate their revenues. And that is not the case in nine African countries; Angola, Algeria, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Libya, Mozambique, Nigeria, Sudan and Zimbabwe. While lower oil and commodity prices have hit many of these economies hard, blocking airlines’ funds is not the answer to restoring their economies.
Efficient aviation connectivity is all the more important when the economy is struggling. But airlines cannot maintain air services if they cannot repatriate their ticket sales, on time and at fair exchange rates.
IATA continues to work closely with these Governments, to find a practical solution in line with global standards and bilateral treaty obligations. We have had success in Egypt where the Government has completely cleared the backlog of funds and seen significant progress in Nigeria. We urge other Governments to follow suit.
Air Traffic Management
The fourth priority for Africa is Air Traffic Management (ATM). And there are two issues brewing—a re-fragmentation of African skies and potential over-investment.
Africa has a history of a visionary approach to air traffic management with the success of ASECNA. And the COMESA and EAC upper airspace initiatives aim to further unite and harmonize African skies. In contrast to that, Rwanda’s decision to pull out of the Dar-Es-Salaam FIR and the delineation of South Sudan from the Khartoum FIR are steps that we urge the governments to reconsider.
While respecting sovereignty issues, the future of African ATM must be built on cooperation, not fragmentation.
Successful ATM also requires a strong partnership between ATM providers and ATM users—the airlines. Recently there has been a proliferation of ATM infrastructure investments in Africa. It is a priority area for investment. But, it must be the right investment. The way to ensure that is by understanding user needs.
However there has been little or no meaningful consultation.
If the investments do not deliver benefits—efficiency and safety—that the airlines need, then they just become an additional cost burden on a continent already suffering from high costs.
The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Collaborative Decision Making (CDM) process guidelines are the global standard for making such investment decisions. They clearly show that a transparent, fair and consultative process is key to avoiding costs of duplicated, incompatible or unnecessary spending.
The last priority area is ensuring that Africa has the professionals it needs to support the industry’s growth. As mentioned, the number of travelers is set to nearly quadruple over the next 20 years. And the continents’ fleet is projected to double. Supporting that growth will need a much expanded labor force.
Attracting Africans to exciting aviation jobs should not be difficult. But ensuring a strong pool of qualified candidates will be challenging. The International Airline Training Fund is very active in Africa. To date 2,482 young African aviation professionals have benefitted from its training. And the IATA training syllabus remains popular among African industry professionals. But the needs will go far and beyond what IATA could do itself. It will be critical for governments to collaborate with the industry. That will guide the creation of a policy environment to support the development of future talent needed to deliver the benefits of aviation growth.
Throughout my speech I have repeatedly highlighted the need for cooperation. When we cooperate as an industry we are stronger and can achieve more.
This was proven at the 39th ICAO Assembly last year when governments made a critical decision to secure aviation’s license to grow sustainably and achieved a historic agreement on CORSIA—the global Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation. Already 72 states are on board for the voluntary period– including six countries in Africa. We encourage more states in the region to join.
Airlines also have some work to do—putting in place processes to support monitoring and reporting of CO2 emission from 1 Jan 2019; and developing expertise in carbon markets. If you need help, IATA and AFRAA are at your service.
That exemplifies the great cooperation that exists between IATA and AFRAA. We are working together with a single focus—to support the success of our member airlines. Although I am relatively new to IATA, I know that the leadership of Dr. Elijah Chingosho, Secretary General of AFRAA has been a formidable driving force for our achievements. On behalf of IATA and our member airlines I would like to recognize Elijah’s great contribution to civil aviation on this continent.
Together, we have achieved a lot. And we are committed to working closely with Elijah’s successor to meet the tomorrow’s challenges.
The Business of Freedom
The last thought that I want to leave you with is a reminder of aviation’s importance and why we are here.
Each day in Africa our industry carries 76.6 million passengers safely to their destination and delivers $100 billion worth of cargo across the continent. We help African countries trade, reunite families and friends across great distances, deliver lifesaving vaccines to those in need and provide a vital air link to remote communities.
Aviation is the business of freedom. The opportunities aviation creates to improve people’s lives are tremendous. And by working together as an industry and in cooperation with governments, aviation leaders - in this room - have nearly unlimited potential to enrich the future of the African continent.