Kikwete decries poor air transport in Africa
Tanzania President calls for viable African airlines
TANZANIA (eTN) – With the coming of the Routes Africa forum in Seychelles, where airline and aviation professionals will be discussing challenges facing airlines in Africa, Tanzania’s President has decried over poor air transport in this continent, which had caused adverse impacts on tourism development.
The Tanzanian President, Mr. Jakaya Kikwete, said that Africa is facing big challenges in aviation industry with a great need for robust airlines to stimulate tourism development.
He said, when addressing a high-level delegation of the Annual General Meetings of the African Development Bank in Tanzania’s northern tourist city of Arusha, that Africa has limited air services with limited direct flights landing in this continent from developed countries like the United States, European countries, and as far as Asia, despite thrilling and rich tourist destinations the continent holds.
President Kikwete took the podium, calling on African countries to improve the airline industry so as to attract more tourists from the developed world.
He said in the past, major international airline companies, including Lufthansa, used to land in Africa, but today, there are very few big airline companies that remain to operate in this continent, while some are no longer landing on the African soil.
“This is a very serious threat to Africa’s tourism, which if well developed, could employ millions of people,” he told the 2,400 delegates this weekend, among them, was Cote d’Ivoire President, Allassane Ouattara.
Otherwise, Mr. Kikwete lamented over the lack of big US-based airlines landing in Africa, except for Delta Air Lines.
The Tanzanian head of state, as well, decried over high air fares charged by airlines operating in Africa, saying they discourage tourism growth. He asked the continent’s policy makers to work out the matter so as to bring a balance in air fares between airlines operating in this continent.
“We need to create [a] better environment to attract major international airlines, to initiate direct flights to African countries, so that tourists from abroad could land directly in the African tourist destinations they want,” he said.
He argued that if the airline industry is well developed, then African tourism will get a big share in respective destinations’ economies. He underscored the importance and contribution of Africa’s tourism in providing employment to the people.
Tourism is the fastest-growing sector in Africa, with 49 million tourists recorded to have visited the continent out of 940 million global travelers. Africa still lacks good tourist service facilities including hotels, transport, good airports, and sea vessels, apart from airlines.
He also stated that Africa is in dire need of financial and technical support to upgrade and advance its tourist services, adding that the financing gap to upgrade and advance Africa’s infrastructure is a major constraint to the continent’s development.
Citing the Tanzanian example, the President said his country has a road network of about 85,000 kilometers, but only 6,000 kilometers are paved for permanent driving.
“We expect to reach 11,000 kilometers of tarmac roads by 2015. So, we’ve a long-way to go,” he said, noting that Africa needs more roads, railways, ports, airports, and ICT to open up and increase market access in Africa.
The Routes Africa 2012 forum will be held from July 8 to 10 in Seychelles capital of Victoria. The Routes Africa forum will bring airlines, civil aviation authorities, and tourism boards together to see how the challenges facing the world of aviation and tourism can best be tackled, taking a serious look at the current situation facing the African airline industry.
“The world economics is changing fast, the aviation climate has changed, and it is so important for everyone to meet and discuss the situation on hand instead of throwing in the towel. Cooperation and the spirit of working together is today more important than ever before,” Alain St.Ange, the Seychelles Minister responsible for Tourism and Culture said.
Despite its big geographical size and rich tourism resources, Africa has four viable airlines operating regional and international flights. These are South African Airways, Ethiopian Airlines, Kenya Airways, and Egypt Air.