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Air Cargo Africa Conference

As the Newsletter reported last month, I sat on a panel on ecommerce and air cargo in February. There was considerable interest in the growth of cross-border ecommerce and in particular in B2B ecommerce. It was good to see a number of new, or reviving airlines like Air Zambia participating in the event. The Africa air cargo market is estimated at 2-2.5% share of the global market but that belies its enormous-yet-seemingly-elusive promise. According to the latest study Africa Cargo Outlook 2023 by Trade and Transport Group:- “During the Covid-19 pandemic, the air transport capacity – particularly freighter aircraft – was re-oriented towards developed world markets in East Asia, Europe and North America, usually at the expense of developing world markets. Africa was hit particularly hard. While African passenger connections are being restored, freighter capacity has yet to return to pre-Covid levels.”

The East Africa Community (EAC) has called on Africa to adopt the Open Skies policy to improve air transport and collaborate on the interconnectivity of the road networks to facilitate trade and movement of goods and services.

Meanwhile, as we are all aware, there has been a general increase in transport fares across different modes of transportation in 2022. Fuel scarcity, which increased the prices of fuel continent-wide, is to blame for most of the rise in general transportation costs. An increase in transportation costs have a knock-on effect by causing food prices to soar and exacerbating already-existing inflationary pressures. Fuel hikes have hit the aviation business hard. But a recent World Bank report on the cost of improving transport infrastructure in Africa has shown clearly that improving air cargo by building new airports and improving existing infrastructures is a far cheaper alternative to building/improving sea-ports; railroads, or road transport infrastructure (in that order of costs). And the World Economic Forum projects a growth of 28% in intra-African freight demand thanks to AfCFTA, which it estimates will need nearly 2 million trucks, 100 000 rail wagons, 250 aircraft and more than 100 vessels by 2030.

Alastair Tempest

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