President Kagame has broken the ice saying that it is time Africa moved faster to catch up the rest of the world.
Speaking at the second Aviation Africa (avaf) Summit from the capital Kigali, Kagame said, “challenges facing our continent are well known but the enormous potential here is just as obvious.”
To exploit the potential and ‘for Africa to keep getting better’ Kagame suggested that, the continent must have “a sense of urgency.” “We can all do our part to keep moving in the right direction,” he said. A new paradigm is taking place on the continent, with governments shifting from running the show and instead supporting and investing in developing the private sector to achieve the desired economic growth.
“We are working with others across Africa to create a conducive environment for private sector investment in the [airline] industry,” Kagame said. The airline industry in Africa is facing unnecessary obstacles including entry barricade and levies that cause a raise in fares. Rwanda has been pushing other countries to open up the skies and create a single African air transport market.
The intention of the summit, the first to take place on the continent, was to discuss deregulating air services, and promote competitive regional aviation markets.
The International air transport Association (IATA) says barriers to airspaces cost Africa more than $700 million in 2015, and more than $800 million in 2016, yet Europe made more profits amounting to $35.6billion in 2016.
Secretary General of the African Airlines Association (AFRAA), Dr. Elijaha Chingosho, told participants at the conference that, “Unless we open the skies and remove these barriers we shall make more losses.
To take advantage of the opportunities in the industry, President Kagame said Rwanda is investing in infrastructure, and is now upgrading Kigali International Airport and building the new Bugesera International Airport.
The country’s airline has grown by 20% annually, from zero planes to a fleet of 12 including both small and large body carriers, such as airbuses. On top of that, Kagame said, “We want to see many young Rwandans and Africans pursuing careers in aviation as pilots, engineers, designers, business analysts…”
However, he said, to compete globally, “We must consistently exceed expectations.” “Removing barriers is imperative, but not enough. We also need to build expertise and capacity, in different aspects of the aviation industry.
The conference, the first to be hosted in Africa, attracted 550 delegates from 58 countries.