The aviation sector is vital for socio-economic development in Africa, as it plays a key role in promoting international trade, tourism and regional integration. The sector is particularly important due to the size of the continent and its many physical barriers such as deserts, tropical forest and mountains. Its importance is further increased by the limitations of land-based transport infrastructure. In this context, the expansion of air services is a necessary condition for the development of Africa’s economy and the expansion of tourism to the region.
Air transport in Africa accounts for only 3% of total world traffic, making the continent a huge untapped market. Annual growth in passenger traffic to 2030 is forecast at 5.1%, and 5.3% for cargo, which is significantly higher than the expected growth in both Europe and North America. However, in order for this growth to take place, Africa will need to expand its limited use of satellite navigation technology and address its poor record in aviation safety and security.
In 2010, African airlines were responsible for some 20% of all air accidents in the world, despite accounting for just 3% of global traffic. All African countries are member of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and must adopt aviation safety legislation and practices in line with the Chicago Convention and ICAO SARPs (Standards and Recognised Practices). To assist in this process, ICAO has established a ‘Comprehensive Regional Implementation Plan for Aviation Safety in Africa’ (ACIP), which is being implemented through the Dakar and Nairobi ICAO regional offices.
The EU has taken a lead in developing common rules on aviation security and the harmonisation of aviation security legislation across Europe and could potentially provide a useful model in Africa. Following the first EU-Africa High Level Conference on aviation held in Windhoek in April 2009, a number of areas were addressed for the safe and sustainable development of air services between the EU and Africa and within Africa. These included market liberalisation, aviation safety and security, air traffic management, bilateral relations between the EU and the African Union and engagement on the application of environmental protection measures.
Against this backdrop, the present support Programme, funded under the Intra-ACP envelope of the 10th EDF, aims to facilitate the development of the air transport sector and promote the use of satellite service applications in Africa. To do this, it will organize technical assistance and trainings to improve aviation safety and security, and to introduce GNSS/EGNOS applications to African stakeholders.