Air traffic in and around Central Africa and sub-Saharan Africa is expected to increase by 12% this year, while international flights to Africa will increase by 6%, says air traffic management systems provider Thales regional sales manager Norman Mathinya.
He adds that, from 2021 to 2030, air traffic in Africa is expected to rise by 4.9% a year, compared with a worldwide yearly growth of 4.3%.
“It is expected that four of the top ten fastest-growing international air routes will feature African destinations during the next two decades and their growth will be driven by the region’s continuing economic growth, tourism and interregional flying,” Mathinya says.
He adds that increasing investment in the continent has resulted in an increase in air traffic volumes, making it essential for African air navigation service providers to keep abreast of new technologies and skills.
“In addition, the increase in the number of airlines and flights from the Middle East to Africa and South America has had an impact on the complexity of the traffic to be managed from Europe and North America.
“The rapid rise in movement has forced African countries to re-evaluate the way they manage their airspace, especially as the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) has set new safety and security regulations,” explains Mathinya.
“The ICAO promotes compliance with safety and security rules and advises aviation industry players to be in line with international norms and standards,” he states.
Mathinya adds that the ICAO ensures that all procedures and resources are in sync and that airspace is managed safely.
Mathinya states that the increasing number of domestic and international flights, owing to increased business opportunities and foreign investment in Africa, is a big challenge for the African aviation industry. “Tourism is picking up in Africa and there is potential for growth in sub-Saharan Africa because of this,” he adds.
“The increase in air traffic comes with responsibility and it is up to Africa’s air navigation service providers to manage the airspace and ensure it is safe and that security measures are in place,” says Mathinya.
“The need to upgrade the industry’s software network is not something that can be debated on a continent that has limited means of transport to provide economic efficiency.
“The safe operation of air traffic is essential to retain Africa’s attractiveness to foreign investors. Owing to the long distances and poor road and railroad infrastructure, passenger and freight transport by air is essential for business and tourism in the region,” Mathinya notes.
He adds that the industry has been under pressure, owing to increased aviation taxes and rising fuel costs.
Mathinya states that the expected rise in air traffic demands has to be backed by an expanded aviation skills base in Africa. More technicians and educated people are ensuring that the industry can manage growth.
“The future economic outlook for the African aviation industry is looking good. We understand that countries are considering Africa for business activities, which is why we must deal with an increased number of flights coming into Africa,” Mathinya concludes.