Is Africa Ready For A Unified Sky

President Paul Kagame at the launch of SAATM on Jan 28

EGYPT – It’s a now a month since the Aviation Africa summit was held in the Egyptian City of Cairo. Indeed the conference was monumental in many respects but perhaps more importantly the conference gave birth to an interesting debate in African Aviation circles.

The debate was initiated by the head of Boeing activities in Africa. Miguel Santos during a panel session suggested that the way forward for African aviation was division into four aviation bodies. Merging the continent’s numerous bodies and reducing them to four would reduce the burden of unnecessary bureaucracy and ease the process of decision making. Then, the issue of open skies which occasioned the formation of the Single African Air Transport Market would even be easier to press for.

The suggestion didn’t go down well with some participants. It was Nuno Pereira of the Angolan airline, Best Fly, who shared these sentiments. According to him this merely was another castle rising up in the sky. The idea was simply unrealistic. In his explanation, this owed to pride and cultural difference. Africa currently is divided into 54 countries each representing an aviation body.

The recent aviation trends as such have tended towards protectionist policies. And now that the wave of the revival of national carriers has swept in, every nation within the continent it seems wants a share of the pride of a national carrier; the profitability of which for now seems not to matter much. This then leaves the question, Is Africa ready for a unified sky?