They say in Africa, it is often easier, faster and more reliable to get from one country to another by connecting through an airport out of the continent.
For instance, the quickest route from Nairobi to Bangui in the Central African Republic, a distance roughly equal to that between Chicago and Miami, is to fly eight hours north to Paris, change planes and fly eight hours south.
Getting from Africa to Europe is relatively simple, thanks to lingering ties from colonial days, but hopping across the length and breadth of Africa can be a nightmare. You cannot compare this with flying from Nairobi to Entebbe which was once mentioned as one of the most expensive routes in the aviation industry.
Again, flying from London’s Heathrow to Istanbul is not a difficult undertaking. It is a given that the journey will be direct and will take four hours or so. The only ‘task’ is deciding on which meals and drinks you would dine on the flight.
Now imagine if the same journey was routed here in Africa where convoluted flight itineraries are unfortunately the norm.
So far, some of the notable factors for these and that stop African airports from becoming international hubs are lack of cooperation among countries and stifling air connectivity, growth and development are misaligned government policies. Consequently, this has since discouraged the middle class who would wish to use airline between two neighboring countries, and instead opt for road transport which is so tedious.
Nonetheless, once African countries open up their policies to ease air traffic, as it looks, given recent endeavours, ramping up consumer demand will become paramount.
As it stands, passengers have reason to avoid African carriers; the continent is home to some of the most expensive airfares on planet earth. They are subject to excessive levies in the form of airport fees, jet fuel taxes, excise duties and more. There is also strained connectivity due to un-relaxed Visas.
Meanwhile, the problems caused by an unconnected Africa are not limited to inconvenient travel schedules and exorbitant air tickets. Far bigger are the opportunity costs to the economies of the African nations.
Trade and tourism is hindered and investment opportunities lost. And it is not just about economics. Aviation connects people. Africa would be a less fragmented continent with greater air connectivity. It is time to demystify air transport!
The continent cannot take off economically while its runway is incomplete. Governments in Africa need to treat aviation as a strategic asset and not as an instrument of foreign policy.
Africa’s past has long been defined by national insularity; its future lies in liberalization. There is more need to open up the aviation industry and promote it as core sector in economic development.
Air travel is no longer a luxury but a necessity, it is not like those days when flying across the continent was a trip back in time for Americans and Europeans, to the days when passengers brought their own food, when missing a flight meant a three-day wait for the next one and when a seat was not truly confirmed until you were sitting in it and the plane was airborne aftermath.
Despite a notable growing awareness of the role of the aviation industry could play in the development of the continent, the industry is still not meeting this expectation.
As we advocate for increased understanding of the African aviation industry and the growing presence of foreign companies, African governments must all be willing to open their skies and stop fearing that foreign competition would outshine national airlines, some of which have long ceased to operate.
Today, Africa has some of the world’s fastest-growing cities and is renowned for its indomitable entrepreneurial spirit, people have a greater need to move goods and services between markets, and when they have disposable income, they want to travel.
Making flights affordable will unlock the dreams that are often blocked by inability to fly across the globe. Air travel is imperatively essential to the prosperity of Africa as it opens up opportunities that did not exist before.
Talk about East African Community; fostering the African aviation industry may be one of the driving forces of integration in the region. Better connected African countries and regions through a viable air transport industry could be the vehicle that can boost intra-African business, trade, tourism as well as cultural exchanges.
Developing the aviation industry may also represent an opportunity to ease constant transport problems facing African countries.
Just like Rwanda’s national airline, RwandAir, on its heels of expanding rapidly into Africa, this is a recipe for more achievements considering that Rwanda is one of the fastest-growing economies in Africa.
Connecting Rwanda to its neighbouring countries and to the rest of the world will not only bring vast economic gains, but also presents a chance for Rwandans to access other opportunities that would have otherwise gone untapped.
On 04 December 2015, Rwanda joined the world in celebration the International Mining Day. The day was an occasion for the government to raise awareness on mining activities carried out nationwide and their contribution to national development.
Themed “Green mining as the pillar of growth and sustainable development,” the day mirrored the government’s model of efficient, safe and sustainable mining sites that are profitable and environment friendly.
It was an opportunity for miners and other stakeholders to meet and interact with potential investors, members of the private sector (insurance companies, banks, etc.) to devise ways to deliver sustainability and enhance the sector’s profitability. They also discussed strategies to ensure environment conservation through ‘Green Mining’.
The event was organised by the Ministry of Natural Resources in partnership with the Rwanda Mining Authority (RMA).
The State Minister of Mining in the Ministry of Natural Resources, Evode Imena, said that the discussions with stakeholders in the mining sector also focused on how the industry can be more resilient to external shocks, most essentially those caused by price fluctuations.
“As we transform the country’s mining sector, all the stakeholders starting from mining companies and mine workers have committed their engagement in conserving, protecting and promoting the environment,” State Minister Evode Imena said, emphasizing that today, the focus is to alleviate the harmful effects of mining on land, water, forests and people.
Rwanda’s Mining Sector contributes to the country’s macroeconomic stability. To optimise investment in the sector, the government has reduced the time it takes to process an application for a mineral or quarry license and the management of mining titles through a modern mining cadaster.
The country’s tourism sector is poised for a major boost following the release into wilderness of the seven lions recently translocated from South Africa to Akagera National Park in the Eastern Province.
The lions, which include five females and two males, were brought to Rwanda late last month and have been staying in a boma within the park, from where they were being closely monitored by veterinary doctors and other employees of the park.
“Earlier today, the gates of the quarantine boma were opened to allow the lions to exit the temporary enclosure. A waterbuck carcass was placed outside the gates to encourage them to explore their new home,” reads a statement from Rwanda Development Board, under whose docket falls tourism and conservation.
“Tourists now have the opportunity to see the lions in the wilderness of Akagera, as previously viewing was restricted to park personnel who had been monitoring the lions in the boma,” continued the statement.
The five females from & Beyond Phinda Private Game Reserve and two males from Tembe Elephant Park, both in South Africa, were brought to Rwanda at the end of June in a ground-breaking conservation effort for the country.
“The time in quarantine has allowed the lions to adjust to their new surroundings, bond with each other, and recover from what was likely the longest wild lion translocation in conservation history, taking over 45 hours.”
According to the statement, all the seven lions are fitted with satellite collars, which will allow the park management to track their movements, and see whether they stay together as a pride or split up as they explore their new surroundings.
The lions will be given names in the “near future” and according to RDB, those who helped in the translocation process have been given the privilege to give them names.
Lions had been extinct from the park after many were killed by residents surrounding but according to RDB, a lot has been done to ensure minimal contact between animals and the communities around the park.
Last year, tourism fetched $304.9 million (about Rwf218 billion), representing a four per cent increase from the $293.6 million (about Rwf210 billion) generated in 2013.
The East African region is leading the continent’s charge to embrace renewable energy, including solar, geothermal and wind power.
Kenya, Ethiopia and Rwanda are investing heavily in these forms of clean energy and moving away traditional hydropower sources as demand for power continues to surge and economies grow.
Countries lying on the Great Rift Valley, known for its huge geothermal power potential, are investing heavily in resource prospecting, with Kenya leading in both exploration and development. East Africa is also geographically located in the tropics, which equates to big solar potential.
“Countries in the east African region have realized the benefits of embracing renewable energy and many have drafted and put in place policy documents to guide exploitation of clean energy,” said Pavel Oimeke, director of renewable energy at Kenya’s Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC). “Many countries have also developed legislation that could see a major take-off of the sub-sector. And with funds being available, this region should see huge investments in exploitation of natural resources for power production.”
The tiny country of Rwanda is leading in solar energy, with an 8.5-MW solar farm that was commissioned in 2014. The $24 million farm in Agahozo has 2,800 solar panels. Though this may seem small compared to American or European standards, it accounts for 7 percent of the country’s installed power capacity.
Ethiopia leads in wind power with its 120-MW Ashegoda wind farm located in the north of the country, which was built in 2013. Ethiopia is already producing another 51 MW from wind generated from two different sites in the south of the capital Addis Ababa.
In Kenya, private investor Greenmillenia Energy Limited is developing a 40-MW solar plant in the north of the country that is expected to start feeding electricity to the national by grid mid-2015. Greenmillenia has applied for a generation license from the Kenya’s energy regulator ERC.
According to the World Bank, Kenya has nearly 1,000 MW of wind capacity potential, but currently only a meager 6 MW is installed on the outskirts of the capital, Nairobi. However, the country is developing what will become Africa’s largest wind farm, the 300-MW Lake Turkana Wind Power Project, which is expected to be completed in 2019. The $686 million project is financed through a consortium led by the African Development Bank (AfDB).
Kenya leads the geothermal power sector with 350 MW of capacity, and according to the ERC, Kenya has more than 10,000 MW of geothermal resource potential. Extensive resource survey work is currently taking place to the west of Nairobi.
East Africa is also investing heavily in microgrid technology in order to provide energy access to the more than 75 percent of the population that currently lives without electricity, according to international development agency Practical Action. A major part of this microgrid solution is in the use of solar energy including off-grid solar photovoltaics (PVC), according to Denise Umubyeyi, finance and business development manager at Practical Action East Africa.
“Investment in micro and mini grids plus use of solar PVC could greatly increase both penetration and access to power for millions of people,” said Umubyeyi, “and this is where governments, private sector and development partners should direct their energies.”
Source: Renewable Energy World