KIGALI, Nov. 13 (Xinhua) -- Aviation expert from across Africa and beyond on Monday sought tougher, smarter regulation policies that will guide the uninterrupted growth of the airline industry on the continent.
They were speaking at the opening of 49th Annual General Assembly (AGA) for African Airlines Association (AFRAA) and its summit in the Rwandan capital city Kigali.
The AGA and the summit, held from Nov. 12 to 14, is the biggest air transport event in Africa that brings together airline chief executive officers and other high profile executives and decision-makers in the aviation industry in Africa, according to Rwandan Ministry of Infrastructure.
"We are looking at engaging African governments to adopt smarter, tougher regulation framework to avoid unintended consequences when designing or implementing aviation policies. Smarter regulation is key to achieve tremendous airline growth on the continent," said Elijah Chingosho, secretary general of AFRAA.
Chingosho called for civil aviation authorities in African nations to be given greater resources and operational independence to ensure improved safety standards.
He said the growth of aviation sector in Africa is being hampered by ill-conceived regulation policies, poor safety oversight, and costly infrastructure.
Iyabo Sosina, secretary general of African Civil Aviation Commission (AFCAC), said that some countries in Africa currently are struggling to comply with 60 percent or more of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) standards and recommended practices.
"We have to engage African economies to take a smarter approach to regulation by ensuring full consultation with airlines in order to comply with aviation international standards and practices," she added.
Aviation experts agreed that greater momentum could be gained by enhancing awareness of aviation issues among African leaders and policy makers in order to sustain and improve the safety and security oversight, the ratification of aviation conventions and other legal instruments for Africa aviation industry to thrive.
According to the International Air Transport Association (IATA), Africa will be a market of 350 million airline passengers by 2035 if challenges affecting the sector are urgently addressed.
African aviation currently supports 6.8 million jobs and contributes 72.5 billion U.S. dollars in GDP, said IATA. Over the next 20 years passenger demand is set to expand by an average of 5.7 percent annually which opens up incredible economic opportunities for the continent's 54 nations, according to IATA.
While officially opening the event, Rwanda Prime Minister Edouard Ngirente said that African governments and airlines should harmonize their operations including airport taxes, improve and expand aviation infrastructure and train the required personnel.
"We need to bear in mind that Africa's aviation is still lagging behind to the rest of the world. There are more issues that should be fixed if we are to catch up with the rest of the World," he added.
Convened under the theme "Rethinking strategies for airline profitability in Africa", this year's AGA will deliberate aviation typical issues such as liberalization of African skies, cooperation, market leadership, cost-effective operations, adoption and application of information communication technology among others.
In addition to statutory assembly matters to be discussed, there will be exhibition of products, solutions and latest technologies in aviation by reputable service providers from across the world.
Further, the AGA will also avail quality time and opportunity for networking and business meetings among African airlines, industry partners and service providers.
The event is expected to attract over 500 high profile delegates from the aviation industry in Africa, Europe, Middle East, Asia and North America.