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Africa wants its own air transport market by 2017

African Ministers of Transport have declared their full support for the African Union Commission’s proposal for the establishment of a single African air transport market by 2017. The South African government has also identified transport as one of its economic pillars and as a major deterrent to the triple scourge of unemployment, inequality and poverty.

This emerged on Wednesday as South Africa’s Transport Minister Dipuo Peters hosted the meeting of the African ministerial working group on the establishment of a single air transport market in Africa. The working group includes members of the current Bureau of the Conference of the African Ministers of Transport.

Screen Shot 2015-01-29 at 8.58.03 AMPeters said air travel was essential to the prosperity of Africa, as it opened up opportunities that did not exist before.

“Fostering the African aviation industry may be one of the driving forces of regional integration on the continent. Better connected African countries and regions, through a viable air transport industry, could be the catalyst that can boost intra-African business, trade, tourism as well as cultural exchanges,” she said.

In the case of South Africa, national carrier South African Airways (SAA) belongs to the largest global alliance in terms of market share – Star Alliance.

The alliance enjoys 27% of the international air traffic market, ahead of Sky Team (19%.) Airlines outside these alliances still command the biggest share at 38% of the global market.

However, the performance of the African aviation industry still lags behind the rest of the world. The demand for air transport has increased steadily over the few years, with passenger numbers and freight traffic growing by 45% and 80% respectively.

Minister Peters said this trend is expected to continue in the coming years due to a number of factors such as robust economic growth, demographic boom, increasing urbanisation and the emergence of the middle class.

“Air transportation contributes directly to economic growth through the creation of direct and indirect jobs in the industry. It also contributes positively to other auxiliary sectors such as tourism.

“The expansion in air transport also creates market opportunities for local entrepreneurs by creating regional and global economic centres,” she said.

Unlocking growth potential

In Africa, the industry is being hampered by constraints such as a poor record of safety and security, lack of adequate resources and infrastructure, distance and limited connectivity, lack of regulation and government actions.

Minister Peters said these constraints add to the competition and high operating costs. Addressing these challenges could significantly unlock the industry’s potential for future growth.

“Other constraints to note in the African air transport industry are poor airport infrastructure, lack of physical and human resources, limited connectivity and lack of transit facilities.

“Despite the growing awareness of the role that the aviation industry could play in the development of the continent, the industry is still not a priority of most African governments,” she said.

Minister Peters said African countries are reluctant, despite increased liberalisation of the African aviation industry, with some African governments still hesitant to open their skies amongst each other but yet are open to non-African countries through the Open Skies and Horizontal Agreements.

“African countries must first link with their own African neighbouring countries before they can forge links with other countries. The fear of competition amongst African counties undercuts national airlines’ [abilities] to enhance their commercial viability,” she said.

The Minister said the challenge requires African governments to enhance the regulation of aerospace management, consumer protection and the safety of airlines.

The AUC Commissioner for Infrastructure and Energy, Dr Elham Ibrahim, said, “We are fully supportive of the realisation of Africa’s long-term vision.

“Now is the time to end the marginalisation of Africa in the air transport market. Establishing a single air transport market will create an extra 155 000 job opportunities in the key markets which are South Africa, Equatorial Guinea, Sudan, Guinea, Namibia, Tunisia, Chad, Kenya, Nigeria, Senegal and Angola.

“Five million passengers are denied the chance to travel between these markets because of unnecessary restrictions on establishing air routes.”

Source: Cape Business News


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SA looks at pension for low-income earners

The Department of Labour was looking into the introduction of a national retirement mechanism for low-income earners in South Africa, Compensation Fund Commissioner Shadrack Mkhonto told a departmental workshop in Irene, in Tshwane on 16 January.

A discussion paper would soon be tabled at the National Economic Development and Labour Council (Nedlac), once it had been approved by the Cabinet. The department’s two-day mid-term review workshop was held to evaluate its achievements against targets set, as well as its Strategic Plan and Annual Performance Plan in the financial year under review. It also looked at crafting a future strategic direction. The workshop was attended by Labour Minister Mildred Oliphant; Deputy Minister Nkosi Phathekile Holomisa; and Director-General Thobile Lamati, as well as heads of branches and various public entities such as the Unemployment Insurance Fund; the Compensation Fund; Productivity SA; the Commission for Conciliation Mediation and Arbitration, the Sheltered Employment Factories and Nedlac. During its investigation of the retirement mechanism, the department will turn to the International Labour Organization for information on international best practice, according to spokesperson Mokgadi Pela.

The initiative is part of the government’s efforts to reform South Africa’s broader social security system. Another process under consideration is the inclusion of government employees in the Unemployment Insurance Fund and the Compensation for Occupational Injuries and Diseases Act benefits.The reform of social security policies is to be aligned with labour market initiatives, Pela says.

Statistics South Africa’s most recent General Household Survey, released on 18 June 2014, reported that the number of people receiving a social grant from the state grew from 12.7% in 2003 to 30.2% in 2013, while the number of households receiving at least one social grant increased from 29.9% to 45.5% over the same period. Meanwhile, the September 2014 Quarterly Employment Statistics report, released by Statistics South Africa on 11 December 2014, reported that total formal non- agricultural employment decreased by 129 000 jobs from 8.67 million in June 2014 to 8.54 million in September.

A total of 132 000 jobs were lost in the government sector, mainly at the Independent Electoral Commission, which shed a large number of jobs following the general elections in May 2014. During the September quarter, 9 000 jobs were lost in the manufacturing industry, while 3 000 jobs were lost in both the construction and transport industries.

However, quarter-on-quarter increases were reported by the mining (8 000), finance (6 000) and trade (4 000) industries. Year-on-year, an additional 83 000 formal jobs were created between September 2013 and September 2014, an annual increase of 1%.

The largest increase was recorded by the community services industry (73 000), followed by the trade and finance industries, with 21 000 and 20 000 jobs, respectively. Gross earnings paid to employees increased by R18.9-billion (+4,6%) from R409-billion in June 2014 to R428-billion in September 2014. The mining industry recorded the largest quarterly percentage increase of 20.9% in earnings, signalling the return of mine workers after the lengthy strike in the platinum belt.

Source: SouthAfrica.info


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