Despite global turmoil and difficult trading conditions, Africa continues to capture the eyes of the with six African countries featuring on the World Bank’s list of 13 economies projected to grow the fastest between 2014 and 2017. That’s not to mention Sub-Saharan Africa’s estimated growth at 3.7% for 2015, with a slight uptick to 4.4% and 4.8% in 2016 and 2017 respectively.
But there are two major challenges standing in the way of the continent’s growth when it comes to the aviation sector and those, according to Jeoff Motshoba, spokesperson for South Africa’s Air Traffic and Navigation Services (ATNS), are: infrastructure and safety.
Aviation in Africa has been plagued with a reportedly poor safety record. However, things are improving according to Motshoba, who explains that new airports are being commissioned and that Africa’s aircraft fleet is getting younger. The result is that the continent’s 2015 safety record was better than any year in the 2010-14 period.
To help make African skies even safer, ATNS is currently looking at creating a single upper airspace management control capability for the SADC region. Not only will this make air travel safer in Africa, it will also make it more affordable, says Motshoba. “This kind of integrated approach will also save money as expensive technology can be shared.”
The latest technology alone is not enough however, according to Motshoba, who explains that having the right people with the right skills to man the technology is at least as important. That is why the ATNS has established an Aviation Training Academy to train future air traffic controllers and engineers.
Motshoba concludes: “Aviation, in particular, has a critical role to play in providing the kind of infrastructure that a competitive modern economy needs. South Africa, as the continent’s most advanced aviation market, has the opportunity and obligation to help build this vital piece of Africa’s infrastructure.”