Posted on January 10, 2006

IATA, AFRAA List Poverty, Corruption Obstacles to Air Safety in Africa

Kenneth Ehigiator, Vanguard (Lagos), Jan. 10, 2006

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) and African Airlines Association (AFRAA) have blamed frequent air crashes in Africa on weak economies, poverty and corruption.

Countries as Angola, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Liberia, Sudan, Ethiopia and lately Nigeria and Gabon were listed as those with growing space misfortunes in the last two years.

While AFRAA considered these countries as lacking established sound and well regulated civil aviation sector, IATA saw the bane of Africa’s aviation under-development as rooted in inadequate infrastructure.

AFRAA’s Secretary-General, Mr. Christian Folly-Kossi, the five countries of Angola, DRC, Liberia, Sudan and Ethiopia accounted for 40% of all air crashes in the world and 65% of plane tragedies in Africa.

According to him, Angola’s low safety level was informed by a long drawn civil war s well as increasing fiscal and trade deficits, just as that of Nigeria and Gabon was engendered by low performance in micro-economic management, poverty reduction, high foreign debt profile, higher budget deficit and official corruption.

“A country like Angola has suffered increasing fiscal and trade deficits because of her long drawn civil war. It is like a lamentation should be written about it. Angola is seen to be at the back among the community of nations despite hr rich mineral endowments.

“The economy of DR Congo has not shown good performance for a long time. All these countries present grim indicators of struggling with poverty. Development studies report seems to warn that unless steps are taken to secure heir economies, he average traveller is at risk.

“Countries that have not shown convincing economic recovery given severe financial constraints have not been able to establish sound and well regulated civil aviation sector. Corruption makes it difficult for the countries to maintain firm grip of the sector with political considerations overriding high regard for stringent airspace regulations,” said Folly-Kossi.

He noted that developments within the Nigerian and Gabonese aviation sectors were being slowed down by corruption and inadequate budgetary cover for capital investments in the air transport system.

The AFRAA scribe expressed fears that the aviation sector in both countries in particular and the continent in general might not grow beyond the level it is now, as the future growth of the industry would continue to depend on world economic growth.

According to him, the problem is compounded by the fact that not so much of aid from the West is coming into the continent in form of assistance.

Similarly, IATA’s Director-General, Giovanni Bisignani, expressed worries about the ability of aviation in Africa to achieve growth because of the twin problems of poverty and prostrate economies.

He said both problems had militated against the ability of countries in the continent to provide airport infrastructure and other facilities that could aid the growth of the sector.

“The problem of the continent is lack of infrastructure which will become a major obstacle in 2007 when airlines are to stop issuing tickets on paper but through internet,” Bisignani said.