Kigali, Rwanda (PANA) - Aviation Africa 2017 conference opened on Wednesday in Kigali with about 500 delegates from African countries expected to discuss their experiences to enhance safety issues and efficacy following the lack of liberalised skies in the continent.
It is expected that during the two days, aviation players in Africa will also discuss the potential that the sector in Africa holds with some of the internal and external challenges it faces.
The conference also features many exhibitors from various sectors, including aircraft manufacturers, commercial aircraft maintenance, repair and overhaul (MROs), Ground Handling, Training Centres, Consultants and Flight Support. This is the second Aviation Africa Conference.
Speaking at the opening session, Rwandan President Paul Kagame stressed that challenges facing Africa were well known but the enormous potential of the sector was obvious.
"But, innovation [in aviation industry] is critical to ensure sustainability," the Rwandan leader said.
Among other recommended innovations are building capacity in different aspects of the aviation industry.
The Rwandan president said one of the pressing needs would be to encourage many young Rwandans and Africans pursuing careers in aviation, as pilots, engineers, designers and business analysts.
"But, we must consistently exceed expectations in order to compete globally," the Rwandan leader told delegates.
Despite efforts made by African government to revamp the aviation industry, experts note that there is still a huge financial gap.
In addition, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) also noted in its latest report that while revenue from airports and air traffic was probably adequate to finance essential investments, politics and weak management were interfering with how the money was used.
The continent’s aviation industry also suffers from lack of skilled personnel, worsened by brain drain that has seen pilots and technicians joining airlines with better conditions.
Because of poor safety records, African airlines often face higher leasing costs than other carriers, IATA said in its latest report.
-0- PANA TWA/MA 22Feb2017