File photo shows new terminal of Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi, Kenya. (Xinhua/Meng Chenguang)
KIGALI, Feb. 22 (Xinhua) -- Aviation experts have called on African economies to channel more investments towards improving airports to cater for the rapidly growing passenger and cargo traffic volumes.
They made the call earlier this week during the opening of 5th Annual Africa Airport Expansion Summit in the Rwandan capital Kigali.
Rwanda hosts the event from Feb. 20-21 which has brought together investors, civil aviation authorities and airport management groups, consultants, architects, construction companies, equipment providers and service groups from Africa and beyond, to discuss ways towards boosting the aviation sector across the continent.
Johann Frank, managing director of Airport Consulting Vienna, an international aviation consulting firm, said that renewed interest in investing in Africa by foreign companies and improved tourism have left many African economies struggling to boost the capacity of their airports.
"Increased intra-African air connectivity in Africa requires improved aviation infrastructure which will lead to economic growth on the continent," he added.
He called on African countries to focus more on enhancing airport facilities through improved infrastructure, regulations and air traffic management.
According to Aggrey Henry Bagiire, Uganda's minister of state for transport, Africa's aviation industry is grappling with the issue of security of its airspace which has led to unfortunate aviation accidents on the continent.
Higher taxes and tariffs are also blamed for hindering interconnectedness among the various African economies, according to the International Air Transport Association (IATA).
Prudence Tuyishimire, head of planning and development Rwanda Civil Aviation Authority, said the majority of African airports are undergoing expansion, but more investments are needed to boost the growth of airport facilities.
"The aviation industry in Africa is hampered by poor airport infrastructures, lack of physical and human resources, limited connectivity, and lack of transit facilities. African governments and the private sector need to work together to address these challenges," he added.
Africa is home to 12 percent of the world's people, but it accounts for less than 2 percent of the global air service market, according to the World Bank.
In 2014, Africa initiated 40 new airport projects in a bid to expand its airport infrastructure.