James Collins discusses the opportunities offered for the airlines industry across Africa and considers the challenge of promoting liberalisation of country markets within the Continent and highlights success.
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I think the Aviation market in Africa has a great deal of potential which has been well recognised in the industry for a long time. Commentators will commonly point to the high population within the region, so over a billion currently estimated to grow to around 1.9 billion by 2050. One of the other big opportunities if you like for the aviation industry in Africa, perhaps more for freight than for passengers, is the lack of very well established transport networks, so road networks, rail networks, even shipping because of the nature of the continent, it is difficult.
I think it is very difficult to put your finger on any one thing that would unlock the African aviation market and the potential within Africa. As a lawyer I am tempted to look at the legal solutions and the key driver there I think is more effective liberalisation. Liberalisation across Africa has long been the hot topic, looking back to the 1980’s the Yamoussoukro Declaration of 1988 followed by the decision in the late 1990’s sought through a couple of steps to establish a new, effective framework for intracontinental travel. It’s been a very slow burn compared to other regions like Europe where we have seen a succession of packages which have really promoted growth within the industry and encouraged not only growth with national flag carriers, but competition coming in from other regions.
There are examples of new businesses entering the market looking to really take advantage of the potential that Africa has for the aviation industry. A recent example that’s commonly sighted is obviously FastJet which has really sought to make use of a first mover advantage into the region by essentially establishing itself as the first effective low cost carrier between different countries within the region.