Africa accounts for only 3 percent of the world’s air traffic. ‘IATA’ predicts a stronger growth of 4.8% in passenger numbers in the next 5 years starting 2017, thanks to the increase of international flights into the continent. This is according to a recently published Hospitality Report for Africa by Jumia Travel, which talked with Ethiopian Airlines CEO Tewolde Gebremariam, who gave insights into the African aviation industry, its key advancements and challenges.

Ethiopian Airlines

Referring to the 3 percent level, the EA boss acknowledges that Africa is still contributing little to the global aviation industry. However, he further said that “more investment into the continent from China, and India, is expected to drive the continent’s development, as well as Africa’s air traffic.”

This is despite challenges facing the industry, which includes high taxes, low connectivity within the continent, infrastructural hitches, and expensive jet fuel. Jet fuel in Africa costs 30 percent higher than the rest of the world; this results in higher operation costs. Furthermore, the industry had long lacked the necessary attention from African leaders because it was always considered a luxurious means of transport.

Tewolde calls upon African Government’s attention to the aviation industry and infrastructural developments. He said “they are the key solutions to make easier, accessible, and affordable transportation systems within and outside the continent.”

To be noted is the progress made in some countries’ airlines over the last few years. These include Ethiopian Airlines, South African Airways, Egypt Air, Kenya Airways, Air Morocco, Tunisiair, and TAAG Angola, which have met the global standards of safety records. Connectivity has also increased especially between African countries and the rest of the world.

The effects of this connectivity have been felt across the different related sectors. International tourist arrivals, were expected to increase from 58m in 2016, as more African destinations become connected and popular globally. The hotel industry infrastructure development, has also grown tremendously, with more chain hotels (365 pipelines in 2016), coming to Africa and bringing encouraging results on the continental hospitality industry.

As the Ethiopian Airlines CEO affirms, the current initiatives to develop infrastructure, are popularizing African destinations,” and in a short period of time, the continent will see a booming hospitality industry attracting travelers from across the world.”

 

Josephine Wawira is a Maravi Post contributor who works for Jumia Travel

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