Eastern Africa News Network

Air Transport Costs in Africa: ‘Too Expensive!’

Unless the continent gets to implement the Single African Air Transport Market agreement, costs of air travel and freight charges in Africa will remain as high as they happen to be now.

Held in the Kenyan City of Nairobi, the Seventh Program for Infrastructure Development in Africa (PIDA) week tried to address the issue, where it became apparent that Africa was the continent with highest costs of air transport services.

The Secretary General for East African Community, Dr. Peter Mathuki appealed to African leaders that they urgently implement the Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM) agreement in order to lower the costs of air transport in Africa and in turn boost development.

Dr Mathuki stated that air cargo in Africa currently accounts for only 2 percent of the global air cargo adding that air transport remains out of reach for both passenger and cargo haulage due to high associated costs.

“These costs can be brought down if we have political commitment to implement the Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM) agreement, especially now that the region continues to ramp up investments in infrastructure to narrow the infrastructure gap and enhance intermodal connectivity. These investments have yielded impressive results; for instance, the transit time from Mombasa to Kampala has improved from 20 days in 2010 to an average of 6 days in 2021, with a resultant cost reduction from USD 3,500 in 2010 to USD 2,200 in 2021!”

Dr Peter Mathuki – EAC Secretary General

The EAC Secretary General hailed African leaders for prioritizing investment in One-Stop Border Posts (OSBPs), which have facilitated transboundary trade by enhancing border crossing efficiency.

“The use of technology at OSBPs has improved sharing and exchange of information among agencies, enhanced border security, reduced processing times at the border transit times for traders and transporters, and enhanced the reliability of the supply chain through streamlined and harmonized procedures,” he said.

Ethiopean Bole Airport in the late 1950s, it still cheaper to use donkeys than planes in Africa

Meanwhile the use of technology has enhanced regional competitiveness and led to implementation of initiatives such as the Regional Electronic Cargo Tracking System (RECTs), Single Customs Territory (SCT), and upgrading Customs Management Systems.

On his part, the African Union High Representative for Infrastructure Development, Raila Odinga, called for the delegates from across the continent to identify new and innovative funding mechanisms amidst limited public resources to fast track the continent’s connectivity.

“Africa needs to create an enabling environment with bankable projects to get funding for infrastructure projects.”

Dr Peter Mathuki

The Commissioner at the African Union Commission, Amani Abou-Zeid called for a win-win public private partnership and investment for projects that are carefully curated to reflect Africa’s infrastructure priorities from 2021-2030.

The PIDA Week is observed between the 28th of February and 4th of March. It aims at bringing together international and regional expertise from multiple stakeholders to deliberate on the issues around infrastructure delivery in Africa, and those related to Program for Infrastructure Development in Africa.

Related: Flying within East Africa too expensive for comfort

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