The skies are open in Kigali as it hosts the first Aviation Africa summit with 550 delegates from 55 countries in attendance.
The significance of holding the meeting in Kigali is not lost; the chairman of the conference, Alan Peaford, had no hesitation when he said: “We brought this event to Rwanda because of its investment in aviation and infrastructure, open visa access and plans for the future aviation growth of Rwanda and Africa”.
Rwanda’s young aviation industry, RwandAir in particular, is now regarded as the fastest growing in Africa and the country has fully opened its skies in line with the Yamoussoukro Decision (YD).
Unfortunately, the non-implementation of what is jokingly dubbed as “indecision”, is holding back Africa’s air transport growth and keeping air transport rates out of reach for many.
Some countries that have national airlines put restrictions on the use of their skies to stave off competition, what about those with nothing to protect?
The fact that close to 20 years have passed since YD was announced and yet nothing much has come out of it, is an indication that the old African ghost of not implementing decisions is still stalking. But Africa is losing out.
According to the International Air Transport Association (IATA), cross-border deregulation between just 12 African countries would create 5 million new passengers and an annual GDP in excess of $1.3 billion. 155,000 jobs would also be created.
So, if Africa cannot open its skies, can’t it at least open its eyes to the opportunities it is missing?