Many old, inefficient aircraft flying in Africa – AfDB

Okechukwu Nnodim and Maureen Ihua-Maduenyi

The African Development Bank on Tuesday declared that too many old and inefficient airplanes were flying around the continent.

According to the bank, Africa is the riskiest of skies to fly in, as the continent accounts for only 3.4 per cent of all flight departures, represents over nine per cent of all air accidents, and 37 per cent of total global air fatalities.

The President, AfDB, Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, who stated this at the third International Civil Aviation Organisation’s World Aviation Forum in Abuja, also said that among the 200 airlines blacklisted by the European Union, more than 50 per cent were African.

Adesina stated, “These are shocking and non-acceptable numbers. If you’ve actually flown in some aircraft in Africa, you’ll pray before you get in, pray while you are in and you hold on to your seat very tightly; and when they say there is a turbulence, you begin to wonder what is going to happen. That is just because we have too many old and inefficient planes that are flying.

“We must have newer and better maintained planes that fly in Africa. The challenge, however, has to do with financing. If you look at the trajectory of what will happen in terms of the need that Africa has in the aviation industry, over the next 20 years, Africa needs to mobilise $150bn just to finance aircraft.”

He added that the aviation sector was important as it opens up doors to investors, noting that very few investors would invest where it was difficult to travel to.

The AfDB boss said, “That is why ease of access via air travel is strongly correlated to economic growth. Air transport promotes trade, investments and tourism, and boosts economic growth. Today, Africa’s aviation industry adds $73bn to the continent’s annual GDP and employs about seven million people – an average 130,000 people per country in Africa. And that’s a lot!

“With rapidly increasing population, urbanisation and income growth for the middle class, the aviation industry is projected to grow by five per cent annually for the next 20 years. From serving 120 million passengers in 2015, the industry will triple and serve over 300 million passengers by 2035. That’s the good news!”

Adesina, however, stated that the cost of air travel in Africa was exorbitantly high and was 200 per cent more than in the European Union and 250 per cent higher than in India for similar distances.

“Given lower per capita incomes in Africa, high fares essentially tax the poor out of the air! We may have an open sky policy, but then end up with empty skies!” he added.

To help address the shortfall in the aviation sector in Africa, he stated that the AfDB had invested $20bn in infrastructure over the past 10 years, with over $1bn in the aviation sector.

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Source: Punch

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