The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has announced that the African Airlines Association (AFRAA) will join its Focus Africa initiative and collaborate on a number of issues to enhance the aviation industry’s role in the continent’s economy. 

Focus Africa is an initiative that fosters the collaboration of African countries and stakeholders in the aviation supply chain around six key areas: safety, infrastructure, connectivity, finance and distribution, sustainability, and future skills. 

Kamil Al Awadhi, the airline trade association’s regional vice-president for Africa and the Middle East, said AFRAA’s role in the Focus Africa initiative had enormous promise: “The continent is home to the world’s most rapidly growing population but accounts for just 2% of air passenger and cargo transport activity. 

“The road to realising aviation’s potential will be long. But with the strong partnerships committed to Focus Africa, we can and we will realise the needed change.” 

Alongside joining the initiative, AFRAA has also renewed its work with the IATA on a joint work programme to further five schemes, including improving operational safety through a data-driven programme and promoting regional air connectivity by supporting the implementation of the Single African Air Transport Market. 

The two organisations will also continue their work on advising best practices for freeing up the $1.5bn in airline funds blocked by governments from repatriation in Africa, and the programme to focus governments on the long-term social and economic benefits of aviation to achieve reasonable tax levels. 

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The collaboration also came in the same year that the IATA entered a cooperation agreement with the Government of Somalia to support the aviation industry in the country. 

AFRAA’s Secretary General Abderahmane Berthé said: “AFRAA and IATA share a common vision – the development of a safe, secure and sustainable aviation industry in Africa that facilitates business, trade and tourism and contributes positively to Africa’s economic growth and development. 

“AFRAA fully supports and encourages collaboration in tackling the challenges and threats to the sustainability of Africa’s air transport sector.”

The African aviation sector has already seen a number of notable moves this year, including the first delivery of a Boeing 767 freighter to an African carrier, Air Tanzania and a partnership between South African Airways Cargo and Menzies Aviation.