The African Development Bank, AfDB, has blamed the high cost of air travel in the Africa continent on levies, fees and high taxes charged.
President AfDB, Dr. Akinwunmi Adesina while addressing the International Civil Aviation Organization, ICAO World Aviation Forum in Abuja said airfares remain exorbitantly high and is 200% more than costs in the European Union and 250% higher than in India for similar distances.
He explained that a big part of this is the very high taxes, fees, and levies that are charged in Africa.
” For example, it costs $128 to fly between London and Rome, but $597 to fly between Abidjan and Niamey, a shorter distance. And just to go from Johannesburg in South Africa, to next door neighbor Lilongwe in Malawi, the cost is $406. Again, a much shorter distance than from London to Rome. If you require another example of this serious imbalance, consider for a moment that taxes paid for a Lagos to Kinshasa ticket amounts to $397 which is 300% higher than the total air travel costs between London and Rome. And that’s just the taxes alone!”.
According to him, Aircraft departure fees alone in Africa are 30% above the global average, while taxes, fees and charges are 8% higher, adding that given lower per capita incomes in Africa, high fares essentially tax the poor out of the air.
Adesina said this is a great challenge and a burden for the passenger, for businesses, and ultimately the growth and development of the aviation sector.
Apart from these challenges, Adesina observed that Africa’s aviation growth is held back by very restrictive regulatory environments which limit market size, profitability, and drive up costs.
“A study by IATA shows that liberalizing aviation markets through open skies for 12 African countries alone will increase annual GDP by $1.3 billion and create an additional 150,000 jobs. Essentially, open skies mean more jobs and increased trade and investments, he added.
The AfDB president disclosed that bank had invested $20 billion in infrastructure over the past 10 years, with over $1 billion in the aviation sector.
These include investments in building modern airports and terminal extensions in Senegal, Morocco, Kenya, Ghana, Egypt, Cape Verde and improving airport navigation systems in the Democratic Republic of Congo. We’ve supported aircraft fleet expansion programs for Ethiopia and Côte d’Ivoire as well as supported regional efforts for improving aviation safety and capacity building.
“Africa faces huge infrastructure challenges which affect the aviation industry, including airfields (runways, taxiways and aprons), high cost of jet fuel due to a poor supply infrastructure, poor airfield ground lighting which limits the time for operations, further affecting safety and airline economics. In many instances, African pilots have ingeniously learnt how to land airplanes at night without electricity, even with flash lights! Therefore, we must do all possible to light up and power Africa”.
“As you know, we provided $600 million to support the government to address its budget deficit challenges and stand ready to continue to fully support the government as it embarks on efforts to diversify the economy and raise the revenue profiles and productivity of the non-oil sectors”.