Kagame Urges Africa to Open its Skies

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Kagame presenting at the Aviation Africa Summit in Kigali.

President Paul Kagame on Wednesday slammed Africa’s closed door policy on outside airlines, urging African governments to liberalise the airspace to boost trade across the continent.

According to experts Africa lack of a fully liberalised air space, high taxes and poor infrastructure that continue to hurt the industry despite its potential.

“When our skies are closed it is harder to make air transport safer, more reliable and more affordable. The growth of business will depend on vibrant aviation,” Kagame said.

Paul Kagame, President of Republic of Rwanda opened the proceedings and toured the exhibition hall with Hon Minister James Musoni, Minister of Infrastructure and VIPs.

Rwanda is hosting the two day conference and exhibition addressing the opportunities and challenges facing the African continent in the aviation sector.

He said that Africa has a huge potential and is one of the world’s most under-served region due to the “impediment” put in place by most governments.

Closed air skies have cost Africa more than $700m in 2015, and more than $800m in 2016, while the west makes more profits amounting to $35.6billion in 2016 according to the International air transport Association (IATA) data.

Rwanda is among the 13 African countries that have stepped up efforts towards the creation of a single African air transport market by fully opening up our skies. The Rwandan government has prioritised the aviation industry and has set a zero tax levy for companies with regional headquarters in Rwanda.

Dr. Elijaha Chingosho, the Secretary General of the African Airlines Association (AFRAA) noted that countries like Rwanda and Ethiopia have benefited from open skies.

“Rwanda has one of the youngest fleets and largest connectivity in the region. Ethiopians airlines makes millions. Unless we open the skies and remove these barriers we shall make more losses” Chingosho said in his presentation on Civil aviation and liberation.

For Kagame it is not enough to remove aviation growth barriers without building capacity at all levels which retard growth of aviation sector even when the African Unions agreed 15 years ago to revamp the sector.

“Removing barriers is imperative but not enough. We need to build capacity in different aspects of the aviation industry,” he said.

Kagame was speaking at the opening of the two day 2nd Aviation Africa (avaf) conference in Kigali this February 22, 2017.

Avaf brings together 550 delegates from 58 countries including 120 airlines delegates and 56 exhibiting companies.

Statistics indicate that travelling within Africa is more expensive compared to travelling outside the continent.

 

Alan Peaford, Conference Chairman said “We brought this event to Rwanda because of its investment in aviation and infrastructure, open visa access and plans for the future aviation growth of Rwanda and Africa.  We hope over the next two days we can help to knock down some of the barriers to future growth in this industry”.

The conference and exhibition will be one of Africa’s largest events on aviation; the conference has 550 delegates from 58 countries.  The exhibition is hosting 56 exhibitors and sponsors including Airbus from France, Bombardier from Canada, Nexus from Saudi Arabia, Gulfstream from the USA and Rolls-Royce from the UK.

The summit organisers revealed that majority of Africa’s airports are undergoing expansion in a bid to cater for rapidly growing passenger and cargo traffic volumes.

 

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