While the conference kicked-started with a focus on aviation, subsequent speakers and panelists focused on the various dimensions of travel and tourism and how to stimulate the sector, even as participants received certificates of participation immediately after the conference.
The African Travel and Tourism Conference (ATTC), a new addition to the African Travel Market exhibitions which holds annually in West Africa, has achieved a massive success with its debut edition this year, attracted an audience of over 2, 000 delegates with as the sessions focused on State of aviation in Africa, even as the panelists brainstormed on reasons that have resulted on failures of airlines.
The conference which opened with a focus on aviation in Africa, also looked at the challenges of infrastructure.
While supporting an open sky for Africa, the lead speaker and the panelists which consist prominent aviation experts in Nigeria gathered and took a review of the situation and trends in aviation on the African continent.
The speaker and panelist brought to the discourse their wealth and depth of experiences as they analyzed the problems that led to the collapse of airlines in Africa and Nigeria in particular.
The first session was moderated by Mr. Femi Adefope, travel veteran and formerly of HRG Nigeria, as the lead speaker, Mr. Richard Aisuebeogun, Director, Gulliver Global Services Solutions kick started the conference on the Day Two of the African Travel Market with the presentation of a scholarly paper titled, ‘State of Aviation in Africa’.
Mr. Richard ‘s paper was very insightful as it reviewed the imperative place of aviation to economies of African countries, tracing their impacts and contributions to development.
‘Africa is set to be one of the fastest-growing aviation regions over the next 20 years, with annual expansion averaging nearly 5%. This opens up incredible economic opportunities for the continent’s 54 nations.
And that by transporting some 70 million passengers annually, aviation already supports some 6.9 million jobs and $80 billion of economic activity on the African continent’, says Mr. Richard.
‘Most importantly, this presentation will dwell on how to achieve sustainable Airline operations in Africa which is at the heart of the Air Transport and Aviation Industry’.
He explained that many failed Airplanes litter airports in Africa, both privately and government owned. And going forward, he traced a list of some of them which included Ghana Airways, Air Gabon, Seria National Airline, Air Afrique, Nigerian Airways, Cameroon Airlines, Chanchagi, ADC Airlines, Bellview Airlines, Air Zimbabwe, and sauing that, ‘ The list is endless’.
Citing a report of survey carried out in May, 2016 he revealed that over the past 12 years nearly 37 airlines were launched in Africa, and almost all of them had failed – 25 of which are from Nigeria. And going forward, also maintained that today, only about 12 Africa Airlines have inter-continental operations.
‘The more we realize that Airlines are not a luxury but a necessity in our remote villages and hub cities, the more we can change our thinking and make sustained efforts to ensure that airlines are supported and developed for the accelerated development of our economies and improvement of our livelihoods.
The potentials of Aviation in Africa are under-utilized. This means that there are huge opportunities for the sustainable Airlines to thrive. Therefore for the continent to realize its full economic potential, aviation – particularly, commercial air transport – must be prioritized’.
Doing an overview of the sector, Mr. Richard insisted that, ‘Airlines are the nucleus of the air transport industry.
‘Essentially, Airlines are the main basis for the existence of all other players in the industry including airports, air navigation service providers (ANSPs), civil aviation authorities (CAAs) and support service providers such as caterers, spares suppliers, cleaners, security service providers, Aircraft manufacturers, & AMOs, and ATOs etc.
‘The economic benefits of airlines are enormous and increasing, because airlines are not just part of the economy but a key economic catalyst recognized as vital to the growth and achievement of National, Regional and Global economic goals.
‘Today, air transport is recognized as an important element in the achievement of the United Nation’s Vision 2030 Sustainable Development Goals which seeks to improve individual livelihoods in all corners of the globe’.
He maintained that Air transport is also vital to achieving the African Union’s (AU) Agenda 2063 which seeks to transform Africa’s economy from its current largely underdeveloped state to hugely develop economies.
Concluding his paper which lasted about an hour and 30 minutes, he harped on the ‘unfair competition’, maintaining though competition and liberalization are excellent but airlines must be equipped to compete, especially in the face of adverse economy, low currency, charges, taxes and fees that airlines in Africa already lose a lot and disadvantaged before they go into competition.
‘That is why even with the best aircraft among African airlines’ fleets, they can hardly complete but pull out of lucrative routes as Arik Air pulled out of Dubai, or they are not able to venture into lucrative routes’, he lamented as he went on to say that despite dozens of BASAs signed by African States their airlines can hardly exploit these BASA routes so the States depend on controversial royalties levied on foreign airlines who fly unrequited without reciprocity
Making some effort to offer some silver lining on the already dampened situation, he posited that perhaps, success stories of fellow African Airlines would drive our inspiration to strive to achieve sustainable Airlines for existing and intending Airlines.
Pointing out to some positives in Africa, he listed that ASKY reported 4 million US $ net profit for 2015; Royal Air Maroc wins ‘European Award for Best Practices 2016′; Air Mauritius readies for expansion with new air-crafts and hubs; Air Madagascar removed from EU blacklist; Camair-Co implements SITA’s new passenger management system and Air Namibia signs up to Travelport’s industry airline merchandising solution.
In his final words, he maintained that Africa Aviation has come of Age, insisting that the phenomenal growth of the Air Transport Industry, which includes the development of modern Airports facilities, upgrade of navigation services, fleets upgrade/renewal amongst African airlines, Globally certified aircraft maintenance facility and training institutions and a robust legislation that supports civil aviation have all joined to stimulate and enhance the growth of civil Aviation in Africa.
The second session which focused on the ‘State of Tourism in Africa’ was anchored with by a lead paper presented by Zimbabwe’s Tourism Minister, Dr. Walter Mzembi with the same title. Dr. Mzembi was represented by Honourable Anastarcia Ndhlovu, Deputy Tourism Minister for Zimbabwe.
Opening her paper with two assertions, ‘Travel and Tourism is the new frontier that plays a critical role in the World’s economy today. It is the peace bridge that keeps people connected-Thus, tourism facilitate peace rather than a security threat’, Honourable Ndhlovu went on to enumerate what she termed, ‘Six Major challenges to Africa’s Tourism, which are Underdeveloped Tourism Infrastructure upon which she, Poor Intra-African Air Connectivity, Absence of Strategically-Integrated Product Development and Marketing, Visa restrictions, Poor treasury support to tourism Brand Africa-Poor image that affects African destination brands (poverty, strife, war, hunger, starvation diseases etc).
Ikechi Uko, organizer of the conference, praised all the speakers who took out time to come to the event, and went on to say that ‘We need such opportunities to come together as experts to discuss issues affecting travel and tourism in Africa and to seek ways to chart the continent forward.
‘For this conference, we were able to bring together the best brains in aviation in Nigeria. If the Nigerian government is looking to assembling the best brains to manage a new national carrier, I think we have them assembled here during the discussion on the State of aviation in Africa’.
At the close of the conference, participants were given certificates of participation.