INTRA-AFRICAN AIR CONNECTIVITY 1
TransformingIntra-African Air Connectivity
The aviation industry has had a considerable influence on the growthand development witnessed throughout the African continent. Forexample, air travel enhances connectivity and efficiency by linkingmany countries and regions (Munang & Mgendi, 2015). It alsocreates opportunities for tourism, business, and trade. Nonetheless,the aviation industry is replete with regulations that mar opencompetition among airlines. In particular, many countries adoptpolicies to protect their national carriers while impeding foreignaircraft (Munang & Mgendi, 2015). Consequently, 44 nationsenacted the Yamoussoukro Decision in 1999 to deregulate air transportand increase transnational competition (InterVISTAS, 2014).Unfortunately, the agreement has had limited implementation, if any.Therefore, benefits such as increased flight routes, greaterconnectivity, and cheaper fares are yet to be realized.
Granted, deregulation of air transport has various drawbacks. Forexample, it presents credible threats to the viability andprofitability of existing carriers (InterVISTAS, 2014). In fact, theincrease of competitors has been shown to cause a reduction in marketshare (InterVISTAS, 2014). Many governments are discouraged by thepossibility of ceding control of their airspace to foreign airlines.The prospect of losing revenue from the national carrier also limitsthe extent of deregulation (Abate, 2014). In some cases,liberalization may increase the potential for insecurity. Criminalssuch as terrorists and hijackers may use international flights tobuild their networks across different countries. Consequently, manyAfrican countries are required to provide additional security atairport checkpoints and other strategic locations. In many instances,budgetary allocations focus on sensitive sectors of the economy suchas health and education. Hence, few funds can be spared to hire moresecurity personnel and invest in surveillance equipment (Abate,2014). Moreover, developed nations may seek to exploit the structuresof liberalization to reap profits at the expense of African countries(Abate, 2014). Besides, deregulation of the aviation industry wouldhave minimal continental impact since only 10% of Africans use airtravel (Munang & Mgendi, 2015). Despite the outlined drawbacks,the quality of airline management will determine the success orfailure of liberalization.
There are several socioeconomic and ethical issues associated withthe aviation industry. For instance, some reports have highlightedthe sector’s ability not only to create direct employment but alsosupport other jobs. In 2012, the Air Transport Action Grouphighlighted aviation’s ability to support almost seven million jobswhile generating billions of dollars in GDP (Munang & Mgendi,2015). Hence, the rate of unemployment has been prevented fromreaching unprecedented levels. Besides, the growing middle class hasled to an increase in international traffic by over 6% (Munang &Mgendi, 2015). Such a statistic is significant since it exceeds theglobal average. Furthermore, the African continent has an expandingpopulation of over one billion (Munang & Mgendi, 2015). Rapidlydeveloping economies also heighten the potential for growth.Consequently, the demand for air travel will continue to rise.
The ethical issues that impact the aviation industry include trafficrights, authorized points, and capacity. Bilateral agreements betweencountries must adhere to the nine “freedoms of the air”(InterVISTAS, 2014, p. 5). Airlines are obligated to operate alongallowable routes lest they infringe on sovereign rights.Nevertheless, the aviation industry is plagued by numerous safetyconcerns (Munang & Mgendi, 2015). In fact, the number of trafficaccidents surpasses the global average. A possible solution couldinclude providing greater oversight to ensure consistentimplementation of safety practices and standards. Moreover, poorinfrastructure has been manifested through insufficient transitnetworks, human resources, and airport facilities (Munang &Mgendi, 2015). Notwithstanding, African countries must increase theinvestments dedicated to developing their physical capacities.Additionally, many governments neglect the airline industry (Munang &Mgendi, 2015). In this regard, various policies can be adopted toreduce visa requirements and waive the taxes levied on regionalairlines. Consequently, the aviation industry will fulfill itspotential for growth and development within the continent.
Abate, M. (2014). Economic effects of air transport marketliberalization in Africa. Retrieved fromhttps://www.diva-portal.org/smash/get/diva2:762267/FULLTEXT01.pdf
InterVISTAS. (2014). Transforming intra-African air connectivity: Theeconomic benefits of implementing the Yamoussoukro Decision.International Air Transport Association. Retrieved fromhttps://www.iata.org/whatwedo/Documents/economics/InterVISTAS_AfricaLiberalisation_FinalReport_July2014.pdf
Munang, R. & Mgendi, R. (2015, July 1). Open skies will allowAfrica to take off. The Free Library. Retrieved fromhttp://www.thefreelibrary.com/Open%20skies%20will%20allow%20Africa%20to%20take%20off.-a0422901933