Delegates at the ongoing 69th International Air Transport Association (IATA) summit in Cape Town, South Africa, have called on African governments to take full advantage of aviation as a catalyst for growth and development.
IATA’s Director General Tony Tyler said the potential for the aviation industry remains enormous with a billion people spread across 20% of the world’s land mass.
“The 50th anniversary of the African Union reminds us of its vision for an integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa, driven by its own citizens and representing a dynamic force in the global arena.
”Aviation is well placed to contribute to these and the other long-term goals so vital to the development of Africa,” PANA quoted him as saying.
On the downside, he said safety is the biggest challenge facing African aviation “with an overall accident rate many times the global average”.
“This AGM is an opportunity to send a clear signal to the region’s governments that world class safety is possible in Africa and that we support their commitment to achieving it by 2015,” said Tyler.
The summit was opened on Monday with an address by South Africa’s Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe, who urged African countries to play their part in improving aviation policy.
“It is hard to imagine that we can transform Africa’s structural growth without a concomitant improvement in Africa’s aviation industry. Indeed most of Africa’s growth and development is hinged on the ability to improve intra-Africa trade and Africa’s trade with the rest of the globe,” the VP said.
More than 700 top leadership of the global air transport industry are attending the 2-4 June summit, holding at Cape Town’s International Convention Centre.